Crime down, violence up in Santa Barbara

SANTA BARBARA — In an appearance before the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on Thursday, Sheriff Bill Brown formally presented a five-year crime report that indicated a 5 percent decline in overall criminal activity while pointing to an increase in violent crimes.

Sheriff Bill Brown

Rape, robbery and assault arrests have all increased in frequency as of 2010, the last year data was available. As noted by Brown during the March 3 hearing, the statistics reflect activity in the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County as well as the cities of Goleta, Carpinteria, Buellton and Solvang, all of which contract law enforcement services from the county.

Among the statistics referenced in his presentation, Brown noted that rapes increased in frequency from 24 in 2009 to 34 in 2010, while robberies during the same one-year period increased from 21 to 27 and assaults rose from 201 to 221.

“One of our biggest problem areas is Isla Vista, which accounted for 34 percent of our total activity,” Brown told supervisors.

The Isla Vista area encompasses a large university demographic, and is the most densely-populated community in the area.

“Obviously there is a lot going on there,” Brown said.

The City of Goleta had the second highest percentage of crime incidents over the five-year period, with five rapes and 99 felony thefts in 2010. Brown did not attempt to explain the rise in sexual assaults, but did reference recent economic trends as influencing the increasing number of property and larceny crimes.

“In this economy, it could be worse,” he said.

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