Chief Cantando’s quarterly crime report to Council still grim, but there are improvements

By James Ott

Antioch’s crime rates in most categories are still on the rise while arrest rates and the clearance rates of most of those crimes are still trending down according to a report by Antioch Police Chief Allan Cantando.

Cantando’s presentation at the Antioch City Council meeting on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 compared crime statistics from the first three quarters of 2012 – Jan. through Sept. – through those same months in 2011. Comparing this year from last showed that total violent crime was up 37.8 percent and total property crime was up 45.4 percent over last year in the first three quarters.

While those numbers seem alarming, when compared over a longer period of time, some of those numbers seem a little less overwhelming. During his presentation, Cantando provided a chart that compares the same crime totals from Jan. to Sept. of this year with those same months in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. This chart provides a more accurate and detailed look at the changes to crime rates so far this year.

For example, when looking at violent crime, cases of homicide, rape and robbery in Antioch are actually at or slightly below the averages of the previous four years. But aggravated assault is way up at 498 cases so far this year; well above the previous four-year average of 365.

Mostly because of that sharp rise in aggravated assault cases, total violent crime is at 784 cases in the first three quarters of this year, that’s 137 cases – or 21 percent – more than the previous four-year average of 647. A 21 percent increase in violent crime, while not good, is a little easier to swallow and a lot more accurate than the 37.8 percent increase shown when just comparing last year and this year.

When comparing property crime, (burglary, theft, and auto theft), rates from the last four years with this year, however – it’s an entirely different and more alarming story.

From 2008-2011 there was an average of 743 burglary cases from Jan. to Sept. From Jan. to Sept. of this year there are already 1277 burglary cases. That’s 534 more burglary cases or 72 percent more burglaries than the previous four year average.

It’s a similar story with cases of theft in Antioch. There was an average of 868 cases of theft during the first three quarters of the year from 2008 to 2011. There are 1458 cases of theft in those same three quarters this year. That’s a 68 percent increase over the previous four-year average.

And auto theft? Antioch averaged 600 auto theft cases in the first three quarters of 2008-2011. In those same three quarters, (Jan. to Sept), of this year Antioch had 844 cases of auto theft – 41 percent more than the previous four-year average.

So when compared to last year property crime seems to be up 45 percent, when you compare the average property crime rates over the last four years with the same period this year, it’s actually up an average of about 62 percent.

Chief Cantando blamed the large increase in both property crime and violent crime to the city’s reduced police force, the overall poor economy and the passing of assembly bill AB 109 which allows some convicted criminals to serve short stints in jail instead of prison. He stated that several nearby cities are experiencing rises in property crimes as well.

He also said that the new ability for residents to report crimes online could make the numbers skewed.

I equate the change in the numbers for Property Crime to the change in reporting,” said Cantando. “We have online reporting now. Many of those cases can be reported online and that’s why I think we’re seeing a rise in [property crime] because it’s easier for the public to report [crime].”

Cantando also cited the reduced police force as a main reason that arrest rates are down.

Total arrests were down 7.99 percent from 3,306 arrests from Jan. to Sept. 2011 to 3,042 arrests from Jan. to Sept. 2012.

Antioch police response times are also down. The average response time from the time a police officer is dispatched to the time they arrive at the scene was 4 minutes and 41 seconds in 2010. In 2012 that response time is now an average of 5 minutes and 39 seconds.

Due to previous budget cuts, Antioch has 86 full time police officers – far below the 126 it is approved for.

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