BURBANK — Some types of violent and property crimes increased slightly in Burbank for the first six months of this year, due mostly to a jump in thefts, according to police statistics released this week.
There were 1,703 Part I crimes, which include violent and property offenses, from January through June, up from 1,615 compared with the same period last year.
The 5% increase was attributed to an increase in thefts — from 909 for the first six months of 2009 to 1,051 so far this year, according to the crime statistics.
Thieves have been slicing open vehicle convertible tops and stealing valuables, including iPods and portable satellite navigation systems left in plain sight, Police Chief Scott LaChasse said.
Truck tailgates and third-row seats have also been common targets, LaChasse said.
In response to the trend, the Police Department has deployed specialized teams, he added.
Despite the uptick in Part I crime, most other major crime categories either decreased or remained stagnant, LaChasse said.
He attributed the progress to proactive policing that has allowed the department to maintain a steady crime level, even as it grapples with ongoing outside probes into officer misconduct and civil rights lawsuits.
The Police Department has been under scrutiny for the past year after the FBI and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department launched investigations into excessive use of force. Five lawsuits were also filed against the city by eight current and former officers.
LaChasse took over the chief position Jan. 7 after his predecessor, Tim Stehr, retired.
LaChasse has been instituting a series of reforms and updating the department's policy manuals since he took over as chief.
He was also given approval by the Civil Service Board to hire personnel outside the department to fill vacant captain, lieutenant and sergeant positions.
With citywide budget constraints and a thinly staffed Police Department, Councilman Dave Golonski said the force was "doing an excellent job monitoring trends" and reacting to crimes.
To keep ahead of crime, the Police Department is looking at using technology to spot trends, increasing public education efforts to decrease certain offenses, and possibly installing cameras in several parking structures to monitor thefts, LaChasse said.