Local News

May 26, 2010 12:18 AM by Ariel Wesler

Violent crime spikes in Santa Maria; drops in other cities

For the third straight year U.S. crime rates have dropped. The F.B.I. says both property crimes and violent offenses dropped some five percent.... from 2008 to 2009.

Locally, Paso Robles and Santa Barbara saw drops in violent crimes. San luis obispo went up slightly and we're learning that Santa Maria saw a significant increase.

"I think it's something that people live with. I'd like to see it change," said one Santa Maria resident.

Despite a drop in violent crime nationally, for some cities on the Central Coast, the numbers are headed in the wrong direction. From 2008 to 2009, violent crime jumped 40 percent in Santa Maria. Santa Barbara saw a 13 percent drop. San Luis Obispo saw a slight 3 percent increase and Paso Robles reported a 23 percent drop.

"It's not secret, we had a spike in our gang violence in 2009. We don't keep that a secret from anybody. It is what it is," said Lieutenant Dan Ast with the Santa Maria Police Department.

but they're working hard to change that image. This recent gang bust is a part of those efforts. Santa Maria Police say numbers are significantly down in the last two months.

This list of the 400 most dangerous cities in America ranks Santa Maria at 132, 58 points higher than the national average, but the FBI warns against ranking cities, saying each on is unique.

Stil, Santa Maria ranked higher than some major cities.

"Even Los Angeles. Wow, that really surprises me," said an Orcutt resident.
"Yeah, that's kind of enlightening," said another woman.

Tony Tristano is a firefighter and paramedic in Santa Maria.

"It doesn't surprise me at all because I know that this area is getting continuously worse," Tristano said.

While Santa Maria Police say they're making progress, they also acknowledge it's a community-wide effort.

Of the violent crimes in Santa Maria, murder and rape decreased while robbery and aggravated assault increased.

Santa Maria Violent Crime

2008 2009

Murder 9 5

Rape 57 47

Robbery 100 199

Aggravated Assault 456 618


For city crime rankings, click here.

For the 2008 FBI Crime report, click here.

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