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Police:

Burglary cases down

Burglary cases for Newport Beach homes on pace to be less than half of last year’s tally, statistics show.

May 09, 2008|By Joseph Serna

Newport Beach homes were burglarized less than half as many times this year as they were by this time in 2007, statistics show.

Through the first four months of 2008, Newport Beach police have handled 59 residential burglary cases, or about 15 a month.

By the end of April last year, police had 130 burglarized home cases on their hands.

“For the past 20 years that I have been employed [with the police], leaving doors and windows open and/or valuables unsecured has been the No. 1 one reason for being victimized,” Sgt. Evan Sailor said. “We have been reaching out to the community to educate them on preventive methods. Our hope is that the message is being received and heeded, and hopefully that is one of the factors for the reduction in residential burglaries.”

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Police also credit an ever-increasing database of DNA samples called “Combined DNA Index System,” or CODIS, for identifying suspects and faster turnover on DNA results from the sheriff’s forensics division for nabbing repeat criminals.

The system stores DNA samples from across the country and allows state and federal agencies to match potential suspects. California alone has DNA profiles on more than 930,000 criminals, according to the FBI.

The database came into play recently when police arrested Andrew Aguilar, 38, of Fontana. Aguilar was arrested Jan. 15 on suspicion burglarizing a Corona del Mar home in March 2006 thanks to DNA evidence. Police suspect he committed up to four burglaries around that time in Newport Beach.

Newport Beach has five detectives dedicated to property crimes. Each handles between five and 50 open cases per month, with four dedicated exclusively to home and commercial burglaries, Sailor said. Lately, they’ve been able to give more time and effort to their cases because there are fewer of them, he said.

Detectives said over the last several months DNA has brought several burglary suspects to justice.

Police are also combating trends with more patrols and special enforcement details, Sailor said. Numbers show the efforts seem to have worked.

Before this year, the lowest amount of burglaries between January and April in the last five years was 93, in 2005.

The numbers are to be taken cautiously, authorities said. Statistics from years past show unpredictable spikes in burglaries from one month to the next.

Last year there was almost a 20% jump in burglaries from the year before.

Police mainly rely on fingerprints and DNA evidence to identify suspects, Sailor said. Minus those key ingredients, detectives turn to witnesses, video and following the stolen property to track down suspects.

Police emphasized residents can help safeguard themselves by locking doors, windows and securing valuables, Sailor said.

BY THE NUMBERS

Total number of home burglaries in Newport between January and April for last five years:

2008: 59

2007: 130

2006: 97

2005: 93

2004: 109

2003: 96


JOSEPH SERNA may be reached at (714) 966-4619 or at joseph.serna@latimes.com.

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