SIGNAL HILL — After hitting a five-year low of 28 incidents in 2011, violent crime in Signal Hill rose last year with 43 incidents being reported.
However, violent crime, which includes, murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, was still below the five-year average of 44.6 incidents reported from 2008 to 2012, Signal Hill Police Department officials said in releasing the latest crime stats this week.
Property crime, on the other hand, was at a five-year high in 2012. A total of 536 property crimes were reported last year, up from 471 in 2011 and a low of 401 in 2010, according to the police department.
The number of reported larcenies, which is basically theft, increased over the last two years, rising to 362 in 2012, well above the five-year average of 307.4.
Vehicle thefts were up significantly in 2012 as well, rising to 87 from 60 in 2011 and above the five-year average of 66. The other crime included in the property crimes category, burglary, was at 87 reported incidents, dropping from 99 in 2011 and just above the five-year average of 85.4.
"These are the same trends that have been seen regionally and we are already proactively addressing these challenges," Police Chief Michael Langston said in a statement. "We were happy to see the reported instances of residential and commercial burglaries go down from last year."
According to Lt. Ron Sagmit, percentage changes are not indicated in the crime report because the difference of a few numbers distorts the overall picture.
"It doesn't make sense to report a 10 to 15 percent increase or decrease in a particular line item when the actual numbers might differentiate by one or two," he said in a statement. "That doesn't provide an accurate picture of what is happening locally."
The 2.2-square-mile city of over 11,000 people is surrounded by Long Beach, which also recently reported a dramatic property crimes spike in 2012.
According to Long Beach police, the increase was largely the result of the number of nonviolent inmates who were released early under Assembly Bill 109.
Auto thefts, home burglaries and garage burglaries soared 19 percent to 40 percent in Long Beach, triggering a 10 percent increase overall in the property crime category, statistics on the Long Beach Police Department website show.
Violent crime in Long Beach, however, hit a 30-year low in 2012.
At a recent Signal Hill City Council forum, some candidates in the March 5 election listed public safety as a top priority in their campaigns.
Councilwoman Ellen Ward said public safety is a top priority for her, while challenger Nancy Sciortino laid out a more detailed strategy.
"I'd like to implement neighborhood watch programs to help keep crime down and help our police department," Sciortino said. "We have it in the north end of the city and we need to bring it to the top of the hill too."
Signal Hill restarted the Neighborhood Watch and Business Watch programs in 2011 and are working to educate residents on protecting their property, Langston said.
Most important, Langston said, is how safe people feel in the city on the hill.
"The instances of random acts of violence are very few and far between here in Signal Hill. Our residents and people working in Signal Hill are not being accosted or robbed in their homes and businesses," he said. "The police department has an extremely fast response time, responds and investigates every crime reported to the department. If a citizen calls, we proactively respond to their request for service."
Staff Writer Tracy Manzer contributed to this report.