Crime Up in 2021 as Lockdown Eases

Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriffs

A mixed bag of Malibu crime statistics was just released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Although there was only a slight increase in some crime, the most important message delivered by law enforcement was to be aware that crimes will occur now that more people are ending their pandemic quarantines.

“Keep in mind, because we’re coming out of the pandemic and things are opening up, summer’s probably going to be a real big one because people were pent up for a year or two in their homes,” LA County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Cerveny, sitting in for Malibu liaison Lt. Jim Braden, warned at a recent Malibu Public Safety Commission meeting held via Zoom on June 2. “There is going to be a crime upshift, but keep in mind 2020 was kind of a—fill in the words you want to use—a strange year. Activity was down because people were staying at home more. They weren’t traveling, so certain crimes dropped. Some went up.”

According to Cerveny, “In April, we had three assaults. No robberies, which is always good.”

Also reported:

Residential burglary – 2 (down 6 from YTD 2020)

Business burglary – 1 (up 1 from YTD 2020)

Garage or out building burglary – 3 (up 2 from YTD 2020)

Burglary from locked vehicles – 9 (up 18 from YTD 2020)

Grand theft – $950 or more -7 (up 11 from YTD 2020)

Petty theft – $949.99 or less – 6 (up 8 from YTD 2020)

Theft from unlocked vehicle – 7 (up 4 from YTD 2020)

Grand theft vehicle – 4 (up 17 from YTD 2020)

Arson – 0 (consistent with 2020)

Felony domestic violence – 0 (down 1 from YTD 2020)

Misdemeanor domestic violence – 5 (up 5 from YTD 2020)


One homicide and three rapes occurred, but not in April. Those crimes occurred in May and will be tallied for that month later.

“So, year to date as of 2021, we did have an uptick of 57/58 percent,” Cerveny reported, “but again, with last year at this time being the height of the pandemic, people were not going out as much.” With the pandemic waning, now they are.

So far, in 2021, 324 arrests have been made in Malibu; 92 of them were in April. Last April, at the height of the first COVID-19 lockdown, there had been a total of 309 arrests made in April so far in 2020, with 61 of those occurring in the month of April.

“Bad guys are also coming out and doing their capering and all kinds of other stuff,” the deputy warned. “Still, some statistics are going down as of last year, which is a good thing.”

The deputy offered some advice: “This is a big one, especially during summer. People with homes and vehicles get complacent sometimes. People [thieves] try door handles sometimes. They’ll monitor activity.” One of the most common crimes Cerveny reported is when beachgoers hide their keys near their cars so they are not lost in the water. But that’s a poor plan because criminals watch for that and know their victims will be gone for hours at the beach. They will take the key and take the car—”that’s always been a reoccurring problem for us,” the deputy said.

Nearly every week, the crime report published on page A3 of The Malibu Times features thefts from unlocked vehicles or thefts from vehicles with “hidden keys” that were clearly not hidden well enough.

To help prevent such crime, the Sheriff’s Beach Team will “be in full force in July. They’ll be on the sand to make sure everyone has a good time and no one does anything too crazy.”  Expect increased traffic and parking enforcement, too. “By the time Fourth of July hits, we’ll be in full force until Labor Day.”

Public Safety Commission Chair Chris Frost thanked Cerveny’s team and especially the crime suppression team.

“They filled a hole during hours we didn’t realize needed to be addressed,” Frost said. “They’ve made an arrest just about every day. Some of this stuff is pretty serious. They’re not jamming people up for some minor item. These people have warrants. They’re burglars, they’re people casing homes—all kinds of things going on. In one incident they tried to pick up the person suspected in the [recent] fire.”

The team helped intercept a reckless DUI in Malibu Canyon “by throwing a spike strip on the road at 2:30 in the morning without any injuries to anyone, which is always a plus,” according to Cerveny.

“The guy never got to PCH, which is the point,” said Frost, who added the team “is going to make a big difference in crime enforcement in Malibu. I’m 100 percent behind it. Hats off to them.”

Cerveny requested the public safety commission and Malibu residents be the eyes and ears they need to do their work: “We can only be so many places. The more we hear, the more we can address.”

The deputy added, “If you see something suspicious, you can always call LASD and if we have a unit available, we will send it.” He commented if a suspect sees a deputy’s presence he may “think twice before doing something nefarious.

“I’m amazed at the number of deputies out there,” Frost concluded. “They’re doing a good job of knocking [crime] down before it starts.”