When some new, higher crime statistics were revealed at the Point Dume neighborhood watch meeting last Tuesday night, Aug. 11, there arose a brief alarm.
Since last year, according to Frank Espinoza—speaking as the temporary Malibu liaison at the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station—numbers of some violent crimes have spiked. But a closer look at the details offered some explanation, Espinoza said.
All in all, it was a mixed bag of crime stats: Last year, there was one homicide reported in the city. The year 2020, so far, has none. Last year had one reported rape, but this year that number shot to six. When asked where these reported rapes were taking place, Espinoza said that a few reports were taken at residential rehabilitation facilities in Malibu, but clarified that does not mean the reported crimes happened at those locations. Law enforcement crime reporting criteria calls for the location of the crime to be recorded where the information gets collected, which is why the city could get “dinged.”
The LA County Sheriff’s Department reported only one assault last year in Malibu, but this year, those incidents jumped to eight.
“The biggest issue in Malibu, when it comes down to crime, is theft from unlocked vehicles,” Espinoza stated. “Thieves. All they do is drive around Malibu throughout the night checking car doors, seeing if they’re unlocked. It’s a crime of opportunity.” Last year, there were 59 cases. This year, 35. Last year saw 18 car break-ins. This year has had 30 already.
There were 25 reports of grand theft in 2019. This year there have been 21. Petty theft was 30 in 2019. This year, 32 so far.
Meeting moderator Pamela Conley Ulich asked Espinoza if the homeless were causing any public safety concerns.
“Encampment issues will always be an issue in Malibu,” Espinoza answered. “We see new homeless every day.” Espinoza explained homeless come by bus from Los Angeles and Santa Monica to access meal services in Malibu. They often explain to him, “They give good food over here.”
With a Malibu election coming up in November, six candidates for city council attended the Zoom meeting, including Mark Wetton, Paul Grisanti, Bruce Silverstein, Steve Uhring, Doug Stewart and Andy Lyon.
Two current council members, Skylar Peak and Mayor Mikke Pierson, attended, with both weighing in favoring speed humps on Point Dume to slow traffic. They also bemoaned the lack of a towing company in Malibu to help beleaguered Point Dume facing droves of illegally parked cars.
“It’s super frustrating without Malibu Towing,” Peak said, claiming the company would tow 150 cars daily.
The outgoing city council member summed up neighborhood safety, saying, “There’s a lot of thefts with vehicles, but we also leave our cars unlocked with the keys inside.
“I continue to feel very safe living on Point Dume,” he said. “I appreciate all the diligent work of the sheriff’s department and our volunteers on patrol. They’re one of our biggest assets. If you’re not feeling safe you should explain that. Get to know your neighbors. That’s one of the most important things about a community. For everyone who pays attention and makes the call when they feel they see something that’s not right. That’s how we keep our community safe.”
A homeless task force number was shared: 310.460.2638.