First published in the Feb. 3 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.
The San Marino Police Department reported a significant drop in crime during 2021, according to figures released earlier this week.
In 2021, there were 222 Part I offenses — serious crimes that include homicide, rape, robbery, burglary, theft, arson and aggravated assault — a decrease of 16.1% from 2020, according to data.
Residential burglaries were down from 45 in 2020 to 35 in 2021, a 22.2% drop. Commercial burglaries also dropped dramatically, from 17 in 2020 to just eight last year, a reduction of more than 52%. Auto thefts fell from nine in 2020 to six in 2021, representing a 33% drop. No homicides or rapes were reported in 2021. The exception to the decreases was three cases of arson reported this past year with none filed in 2020.
“Our residential burglaries are down 22% this year compared to last year,” said San Marino Police Chief John Incontro. “The only month that stands out was September, when we had a record number with 12.”
Incontro said that some of those crimes were committed at vacant homes or when people were out of town.
“Except for a couple where there were no security systems activated or present,” Incontro said. “We still had 10 [fewer] residential burglaries this year than last.”
The chief said the presence of Flock cameras has greatly assisted law enforcement efforts. The Flock cameras are able to read license plate numbers and alert officers who are on duty.
“This is the first full year we have had the cameras and they have had a direct impact on reducing crime, assisting with investigations and identifying criminals,” said Incontro.
“The biggest advantage we have with the cameras is the early notice of a vehicle in the city which might have a ‘wanted’ driver. Once it is identified and we find the vehicle, it is only a few minutes until we can be on the scene. Those precious minutes allow us to make a stop, investigate and, when appropriate, make an arrest before the suspect can commit a crime.”
There are currently 22 cameras operating in the city, but Incontro said that another eight are being added, one of which was funded by a resident.
“These additional cameras will have a direct impact on crime,” the chief added.
Incontro said that larcenies and thefts continue to challenge the police force.
“The three areas are package thefts, thefts from vehicles and theft of gardening equipment,” he explained. “Thefts are crimes of opportunity where suspects might see a pile of packages at a front door or items of value in vehicles. The cars may be locked or unlocked and the unsecured equipment might belong to a gardener. If people take deliberate action to lock and secure property, to remove the valuables from plain sight and lock things up, these thefts will decrease. The department needs help from the community.”
Incontro then repeated one of his law enforcement mantras: “Lock it, hide it, keep it.”
The chief also asked community members to refrain from reporting crime on social media.
“The police department does not have the ability to monitor social media platforms,” he said.
“We need you to report crime or suspicious activity when you see it so the department can have an impact on crime. We want to keep our residents safe and reporting crime on social media does not provide any safety, protection or intervention by the department when a crime occurs. It can be a benefit if a resident sees a crime or suspicious activity. But call us first. Not afterwards.”