Crime in Napa County inched up in 2012, although totals remain lower than they were a decade ago, according to the latest FBI data.
Napa County’s law enforcement agencies, representing all five municipalities and the Sheriff’s Office, reported 340 violent crimes, an increase of 11 cases, or 3.3 percent, over 2011. Agencies reported 2,751 property crimes, a jump of 65 cases, or 2.4 percent.
In 2012, Napa Police reported 1,643 property crimes, including 1,073 larceny thefts, 349 burglaries and 221 vehicle thefts. Overall, that’s 28 more property crimes than in 2011.
At the same time, the city experienced 216 violent crimes in 2012 — eight fewer incidents than the year before. The 216 violent incidents included two murders/manslaughters, 17 forcible rapes, 39 robberies and 158 aggravated assaults, according to the FBI.
The two homicides reported in 2012 included the July stabbing death of 62-year-old Callie Joshua Evans Jr. in the 2000 block of Euclid Avenue. His girlfriend, Robyn Gevas, 37, of Napa awaits trial.
In September 2012, 51-year-old Robin Dale was stabbed to death at his residence off Almond Avenue. Francisco DeLeon, 32, of Napa has been ordered to stand trial following a preliminary hearing last month. There were also eight arson incidents in the city of Napa, according to the FBI. Napa Fire Marshal Darren Drake said the incidents included three residential and three vehicle arson fires.
“I think we have a very proactive Police Department, and I think we have a very engaged community,” Napa Mayor Jill Techel said Thursday.
Napa City Councilwoman Juliana Inman said the statistics were reassuring. “I think Napa is a very safe community,” she said.
Vice Mayor Peter Mott said he has not received a crime complaint in the last year. “Potholes, I can give you some complaints,” he said Wednesday, laughing.
The FBI statistics differ somewhat from the raw numbers collected by the city of Napa and the Napa County Sheriff’s Office. Napa Police Capt. Jeff Troendly and Sheriff’s Capt. Tracey Stuart said they couldn’t explain the discrepancies.
Stephen G. Fischer Jr. of the FBI said there are a number of possibilities as to why the numbers may vary. “The difference may simply be California Department of Justice updated their data and published updated stats,” he said. “We send our published numbers to agencies and state programs twice for verification. If they do not inform us of changes, we assume they are good as is.”
Troendly said Napa crime has been on a downward trend for years, a trend that has also been seen in other communities nationwide. For example, according to the city’s statistics, the number of robberies, homicides, rapes, assaults resulting in injuries, thefts and motor vehicle thefts totaled 2,900 in 2003. In 2012, there were 1,905 such incidents, by the city’s own count.
In 2012, the city reported 223 motor vehicle thefts — 84 more than in 2011, according to the city statistics. In the first half of 2013, there were 53 motor vehicle thefts, a marked drop-off from the 2012 rate.
The number of motor vehicle thefts may be dropping either because there have been several arrests here or elsewhere, or because police have stepped up efforts to stop motor vehicle thefts, Troendly said.
According to the FBI statistics, the Sheriff’s Office, which serves unincorporated Napa County, reported 53 violent crimes in 2012 — one more than in 2011 — and 342 property crimes — 29 fewer than the year before.
“We have a relatively low crime rate, compared to many other Bay Area counties,” Stuart said in an email. “While we do have a lower crime rate, no community is totally risk free. People need to keep that in mind and be smart about their personal safety, pay attention to their surroundings and report suspicious activities.”
The Sheriff’s Office also contracts with the city of American Canyon to provide police services in the county’s second largest city, which abuts Vallejo in Solano County, where 14 murders and non-negligent manslaughters were reported in 2012.
The American Canyon Police Department reported 64 violent crimes in 2012, a jump of 20 crimes, or 45 percent, and 616 property crimes, an increase of 89.
In raw numbers, “it’s not a huge jump,” American Canyon Police Chief Jean Donaldson said last week. “We’re concerned about every crime, obviously,” he said. “I think these things come up and down.”
The department continues to promote neighborhood-watch groups and train managers of mobile home parks and apartment complexes in crime prevention, all in an effort to reduce residential burglaries, Donaldson said.
These groups have been effective in reducing the number of residential burglaries, Donaldson said.
Kayla Whaling, a Walmart representative, said “asset protection” associates at American Canyon’s Walmart Supercenter have been very successful in stopping thieves.
“Unfortunately, shoplifting is something that every retailer faces,” she said.