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Car thefts hit five-year low, stats show

Police data also show a drop in reported rapes, assaults in 2009.

January 27, 2010|By Joseph Serna

Vehicle thefts in Costa Mesa are the lowest they’ve been in at least five years, according to year-end statistics released by the Police Department.

According to police data, 246 cars were stolen in Costa Mesa last year. That’s a 19% drop from 2008, and less than half of how many were stolen in 2005, when 555 cars were stolen.

The change is only one of several decreases in crime in Costa Mesa in 2009 compared with years past. According to the statistics, available at costamesapd.org, there was also a 30% drop in reported rapes, from 39 to 27, and a 14% drop in aggravated assaults.

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In the longer view, though, with statistics dating back five years, most Part 1 crimes — incidents serious enough for people to report them and occurring frequently enough to track them — numbers remained generally unchanged.

There were fewer assaults in 2009 than the year before, with 943 reported, but they still remained high compared with 2005, when 854 were reported. Of those, however, fewer were serious felonies such as assault with a deadly weapon, data show.

For the second straight year, Costa Mesa saw one murder.

Kenneth Leake, 76, is accused of shooting his wife, Doris, up to five times in their home on Orange Avenue. She died from her injuries more than a week later. Leake remains in custody and is awaiting trial.

In 2008, police said Scott Santana, an accused gang member, stabbed another man outside a local market.

The numbers are a far cry from 2006 when there were at least four shootings in the city.

Police reported 114 robberies last year, six fewer than in 2008. For the third time in five years, police in 2009 recorded more than 2,500 larcenies, which include vehicle and petty thefts, police said.

The data counter a preliminary report issued last month by the FBI, showing an uptick in violent crime in the city through the first six months of the year compared with 2008.

The FBI will release its report of total violent crimes in Costa Mesa in 2009 later this year.

By The Numbers

2007-2008-2009

Robberies-77-120-114

Assaults-921-977-943

Burglaries-508-516-515

Larcenies-2,423-2,547-2,557

Stolen Vehicles-402-304-246


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