FBI report lists Los Altos as one of Bay Area’s safest communities

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report released last week listed Los Altos as the second safest community in the Bay Area.

The report, based on 2011 reported crimes, revealed that Los Altos has a crime rate of 20.47 violent crimes per 100,000 people. Those numbers placed Los Altos behind only Hillsborough, which had a reported violent crime rate of zero.

In stark contrast, crime rates in Oakland and Emeryville – the cities with the highest crime rates in the Bay Area – recorded 1,682 and 2,039 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, according to the FBI report.

“Los Altos has historically been a very safe city overall, specifically with crimes against persons,” said Los Altos Police Chief Tuck Younis, who noted that he avoids comparing Los Altos to other cities because of varying circumstances within each city’s borders.

Los Altos’ 2011 crime statistics show a total of 269 property crimes and 36 crimes against people, which includes 32 assaults, two sexual assaults, two robberies and no homicides. Los Altos’ 2011 crimes against persons were 7.7 percent lower than in 2010, Younis said.

Still, statistics don’t always tell the entire story, Younis noted, adding that some crimes go under-reported, such as domestic violence altercations.

“I’ve been very upfront in addressing the fact that domestic violence crimes go underreported in our region and in Los Altos,” he said. “We’re here to reach out to victims being silent to say that we’re here to help them.”

Younis said that while 2011 was a banner year in terms of low crime numbers, 2012 has seen its challenges, particularly when it comes to home and commercial burglaries. A year-to-date comparison shows a 35 percent increase in burglaries, or 18 more break-ins in 2012 versus 2011. Over the past 10 years, however, the city has averaged 107 burglaries annually, spiking in 2006 at 172.

“We’ve seen a steady decline since our high in 2006,” Younis said. “While we’re seeing this increase (in 2012) and are taking measures to address it, those numbers really put it in perspective.”

Younis credited Los Altos’ 2011 low crime figures in part to the collaborative working relationship his agency has developed with neighboring cities’ law enforcement agencies, including the Mountain View and Palo Alto police departments and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.

“Crooks don’t know borders, so we have to work together to leverage our resources,” the police chief said.

Town Crier staff writer Diego Abeloos contributed to this story.

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