Crime rates fall after residents, deputies make changes

November 28, 2017 — by Elaine Toh and Callia Yuan

The crime rate in Saratoga this past year has fallen by approximately 50 percent compared to the same period last year.

In 2016, there were 31 acts of vandalism and 130 residential burglaries. As of the end of September this year, Saratoga had only experienced 13 reports of vandalism and 49 burglaries.   

“It’s an amazing accomplishment,” said Saratoga councilmember Rishi Kumar. “We’re fighting crime, one home, one family one neighborhood at a time, collectively making a huge difference.”

According to mayor Emily Lo, the reduced crime rate can be attributed mostly to the increase in Neighborhood Watch groups.

Following the motto “If you see something, say something,” residents are working with the Sheriff’s Office to stop and solve crimes by reporting suspicious behavior, officials said.

Captain Rich Urena, who oversees law enforcement in Saratoga, explained that residents calling the Sheriff's Office to report suspicious activity “has allowed us to quickly respond to the neighborhood and search for potential criminals, before crimes occur.”

In addition to Neighborhood Watch programs, the Sheriff’s Office has deployed undercover deputies into the neighborhoods. These deputies drive regular vehicles instead of marked patrol cars, allowing suspects to be identified covertly.

Currently, the city cooperates with other local law enforcement agencies to fight crime — specifically, the identification of suspects, Urena said.

With keeping Saratoga safe as its utmost priority, the Sheriff’s Office has been improving its skills in order to keep the trend of lower in-house burglaries.

“We are leveraging our in house crime analyst who combs through all Saratoga crime in an attempt to find similarities or patterns,” said Urena. “This information is passed on to our patrol deputies who get a sense of the area that needs specific attention.”

Urena explained that within the region, law enforcement is aware of several gangs that have been committing crimes in and around the area.  

“As a result, we are all disrupting the organizations in various different ways, which may be a reason for the decline,” he said.

However, not all types of crime have decreased. For instance, vehicle thefts have increased from nine last year to 12 as of September. Though no specific cause has been attributed to this increase, most of the cars are older models, such as a 1997 Honda Civic and a 1999 Ford Truck.

Wanting to keep diminishing the overall crime rate, the city council formed a task force in February to identify ways to further reduce crime and educate the public about crime prevention.

“While we may never be entirely free of crime, the city is doing what it can to make Saratoga as safe as possible,” said Lo.


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