The Chief’s Take On Crime In Lafayette: Down Where It Counts, Upticking...

The Chief’s Take On Crime In Lafayette: Down Where It Counts, Upticking In Places

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Lafayette residents should consider themselves lucky for a number of reasons: nice homes, great restaurants, neighbors who care and a police force that just loves to locate and arrest criminals.

Regular readers will know that Lafayette PD takes a proactive stance on crime deterrence and believes in reaching out to neighbors to help them do just that. According to Chief Eric Christensen’s Annual Report to the City, presented to civic leaders and available on the city’s web site, the formula appears to be working. 

“When looking at the numbers, 2016 was a year where we experienced an overall 20 percent reduction in the number of reported crimes within the City,” Christensen wrote in his report to the city. “The greatest reduction was in the number of auto burglaries, with an overall reduction of 57 percent from our numbers from 2015.”

Something to celebrate, given how the citizenry reacted here and elsewhere to what seemed to be frequent and unabated forays into their cars and glove boxes by miscreants unafraid of the consequences. Lafayette police examined the problem, identified the methods favored by thieves – and launched a campaign to warn and educate the public they say appears to have worked well.

“While the reduced number of crimes is certainly something to celebrate, it’s a trend that has been repeated in neighboring communities as well,” Christensen said in subtle reference to the successes of neighboring jurisdictions, many of which have embraced the use of cameras and license plate reader systems adopted in Lafayette.

Along with his department’s successes, Christensen was quick to point out areas of concern.

“As you examine the crime statistics, there are a couple of crime categories where we can make some improvement,” he wrote. “First, the number of auto thefts that we experienced in 2016 is still too high. Many of the vehicles that were stolen were the result of individuals leaving their keys in their vehicle – creating a tempting target. Likewise, the number of Identity Theft cases are also growing, which is primarily a result of people stealing mail from the mailboxes of our homes.”

The chief also cited a growing number of contacts between members of his department and an apparently surging homeless population, drawn to the area in recent months for several different reasons. Christensen reported that his officers have received extra training in identifying and talking with people whose problems may be outwardly difficult to discern so that appropriate care can be summoned and the chance of confrontation lessened.

Check out the whole report on the city’s site to drill down into the chief’s numbers and pick up some useful information on local crime and how to fight it.

16 COMMENTS

  1. First mention I’ve seen of an increase in the number of homeless- mentally disturbed people arriving in the area. We have noticed this to and thought it may have just been random.

  2. It has been interesting to see this game of cat and mouse play out with both sides using new tools to beat the other. good guys use cameras, bad guys start using paper plates to beat the license plate scanners. Crazy. It appears the good guys are winning right??

  3. We have noted more panhandlers at Safeway lately. Are they being pushed out of Walnut Creek and coming here? Or is it something else??

  4. I’m seeing a lot more homeless in Walnut Creek. I think they’re being pushed out of San Francisco to both Lafayette and Walnut Creek. And, yes, Thank you too, to the Lafayette police. They are definitely on the ball and proactive, doing an excellent job, especially considering how the freeway really lines Lafayette and makes it attractive for these thugs to come through the tunnel to do bad stuff.

  5. I think BART is to blame for bringing the homeless in. I know it’s obvious that’s how they got here, but Bart now seems to be kind of like a rolling ‘homeless shelter’. I think they’re not even paying fares to ride around all day, and just crash the gates to get out in whatevet community they want.

  6. We should make sure we distinguish between someone who is homeless and someone who is committing crimes.

  7. I now live and work in San Francisco and my everyday experiences here have led me to develop an unapologetically cynical view of the homelessness problem. I believe crime, squalor, and a reduced quality of life go hand in hand with homeless people. My hope is that Lafayette will remain a nice, small town, and I do not think Lafayette should have any tolerance for homeless activity. This problem only has only gotten worse in SF, LA, Oakland, and now, unbelievably, Walnut Creek. Does Lafayette have ordinances against panhandling, loitering/lying/sleeping in public spaces, etc.?

  8. @RIL – Having made the “reverse commute” from the city back to the ‘burbs after many years in DisneyLand for Adults we do get your point. Interestingly, we’ve received four calls this morning regarding folks camping/sleeping in neighborhood parks in the 24/680 – something folks out this way may not be used to seeing. There are ordinances in place for the types of thing you mention however, as we saw in the city, they may not be enough to combat a growing problem, if indeed that is what we are seeing. But we’ve noted it, the police have noted it, and residents have noted it, as well. We shall see what happens.

  9. Folks who wonder about homelessness in Lamorinda need to understand that we have a regional housing crisis, and Lamornida is part of this region. And when people talk about Lafayette or Moraga as a small town, I question whether they live in the present or the past. Lamornida is surrounded by millions of people and the region continues to grow. These problems don’t solve themselves, and they will not go away. As for the perception that homeless are “pushed” out of SF, not really. I just moved here from SF after 31 years in the City. The homeless in SF are fine where they are and generally don’t leave SF because there are services. Not as many service providers out here, and they are more diffuse in location, which makes it more challenging. But trust this: no one “pushes” homeless out of SF. The homeless you see here are most likely locals, pushed out of the housing market. And laws? Laws only work when you enforce them, including prosecution. No one in the DA’s office is going to make a push to criminalize the homeless. Homeless are a fact of life now and we should be coming up with solutions.

  10. The homeless are everywhere. I believe the homeless in Lamorinda come here on BART. I have no idea how local they are, but I can guess “why” they come here. Safety and tranquility. A very nice, semi-rural area. And some of them panhandle – and a lot of Lamorindans have a little extra money in their pocket. It doesn’t mean they’ll part with it – but they have it, and the homeless know it. It’s well known that Lamorinda is a nice area.

    I believe the main reason is safety. Sleeping on the streets is dangerous. The homeless face a lot of violence, and Lamorinda is a low crime, non-violent area. I really don’t think the homeless are concerned about being beaten up because some rich guy is upset that his stocks are down. Think about it.

    Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda are still “small towns.”

    I have compassion for the homeless. They break my heart…

  11. I think it is misguided and likely ultimately harmful to give cash to to panhandlers. No one starves to death in America and your spare change is not going to pay their rent. If you feel charitable, stop and have a conversation, refer them to public an private social services and then make a donation to a charity.

  12. Chris, I agree with your comment above. Scott, I doubt with a high degree of confidence that the homeless people seen recently in Lamorinda are “locals pushed out of the housing market,” if we are defining locals as longtime residents of Lamorinda. If someone was renting a home in Lamorinda (or anywhere) and couldn’t keep their place because the rent cost increased to a level they could no longer afford, I would encourage them to explore moving somewhere with a more affordable cost of living. I do not think it should be Lafayette/Moraga/Orinda’s responsibility to provide for homeless people who show up from out of town.

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