While Westlake Village and the surrounding area has some of the lowest crime rates around, the area has been plagued with burglaries and thefts out of vehicles. While the Sheriff has made some arrests, new thieves pop up in their place, and are generally coming from areas outside the Conejo Valley. Vehicle related crimes could be cut by half if residents don’t leave desirable items in plain sight in their cars.
The Malibu/Lost Hills Station covers more than you may realize for the area. The cities of Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Malibu and Westlake Village … along with unincorporated areas make up nearly 180 square miles that the station is responsible for.
Law Enforcement across the country breaks the statistics into two groups — Part I and Part II. Part I crimes are used to reveal trends in criminal activity, and include : Criminal Homicide (murder), Forcible Rape, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Larceny (theft of personal property), Theft, Grand Theft Auto, and Arson. Part II crimes are just about all other crimes other than the eight Part I offenses listed above.
At the local level, crime rates are measured by crimes per 10,000 people. In 2006, the rates for Part I crimes looked like this:
Crimes Rate Area
290 133.04 Unincorporated Area
382 164.29 Agoura Hills
350 148.38 Calabasas
17 83.33 Hidden Hills
292 213.43 Malibu
185 208.64 Westlake Village
1,516 162.62 TOTAL MALIBU/LOST HILLS STATION
These rates are among the lowest of the areas covered by LA Country Sheriff.
The number of crimes are so small, especially when you get down to the individual types of crimes, that the slightest of changes can have a large percentage change, so to some extent, these percentage changes are not relevant. More important to focus on the quantities than the percentage.
In most cases, the areas Part I crimes have been relatively stable … down some years, and up others. There’s one glaring exception. The local area, along with Ventura County, Simi Valley, the San Fernando Valley, Moorpark, and Oxnard have been plagued with burglaries and thefts out of vehicles. These types of crimes have about doubled or more in the past year.
Although the Sheriff has made several arrests, it seems that new thieves pop up to take the place of the ones incarcerated. The items generally stolen are those left in plain view by the vehicle owner.
As an oversimplification, those committing the crimes are generally coming from areas outside the Conejo Valley — primarily to the East of Calabasas and to the West of the Conejo Grade. They are even coming from areas such as Pacoima, Oxnard, Ventura, and South Central Los Angeles.
In addition to the Part I crimes generalized above, there has been a bit of an upward trend in vandalism.
The primary solution for vehicle crimes center around prevention, and reporting. Vehicle related crimes could be cut by half if residents don’t leave desirable items in plain sight in their cars. Furthermore, the more people that this area brings in from other areas to work (e.g., domestic help, outside services, and staff), the more exposure the area has. Word of mouth is the primary method of “advertising” the area.
Items being stolen from unlocked vehicles (theft) is about the same as locked vehicles (burglary), totalling about 50 crimes in Westlake Village alone Jan 2007 through July 2007. The common thread is thieves look into the car, and if they see what they want, they take it. The iPod on the center console, the wallet on the seat, the cell phone in plain view … even the purse or briefcase behind the seat … all are tempting targets.
Thefts like this take seconds, not minutes. Thieves watch for opportunities, such as when you are just getting out of the car. It doesn’t matter if you are just “running in for a minute” … that’s all the opportunity that a thief needs.
Many people have made the habit of taking items out of their car, and placing them in the trunk. This is a good thing. However, if you take that action when you arrive at your destination, you may be pointing out to a watching thief exactly where you are storing valuables. The more effective approach is to place them in your trunk when you are leaving to go to your destination.
In the end, if a thief doesn’t think that you have something to take, they generally won’t bother attempting a crime.
And, if you see anything suspicious, make sure to report it. Local law enforcement is performed by the Los Angeles County Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station, (818) 878-1808.