Last updated at 11:27 a.m. on January 30, 2013 to clarify data.
While Fullerton has a crime rate below the United States average, the city’s overall crime is on a slight uptick, according to police data.
Fullerton has two burglary and theft hotspots: Placentia Avenue near the Yorba Linda Boulevard and Harbor Boulevard near downtown.
The city scores an “average” crime index level and the city is well below the national average in violent and property crimes, according to CityData.com, an independent city demographic aggregate.
There were 147 robberies, 746 residential and commercial burglaries, 823 vehicle burglaries, 373 auto thefts and 889 vandalism reports in 2012, according to crime stats released by the Fullerton Police Department. Three of the five categories—robbery, residential and commercial burglary, and vandalism—are up from 2011. Modest declines in vehicle burglary and auto thefts were made, however.
Among the 61 homicides in Orange County in 2012, only one was in Fullerton, according to Donna Meyers, a research analyst at the Orange County Coroner’s Office. Meyers added that those numbers may rise as there are still open cases.
The crime report comes on the heels of Police Chief Dan Hughes’ permanent appointment as police chief, a position he has held in an interim basis since January 2012. The Fullerton City Council voted 5-0 to appoint Hughes to the position Jan. 15.
While many, like City Manager Joe Felz, said Hughes’ appointment can bring Fullerton forward, others disagree, citing that Hughes played a role in the Kelly Thomas incident, the police killing of a homeless man in 2011, as the officers’ supervisor.
“There’s really a pattern of abuses in that department. I don’t think that promoting someone who was overseeing (the Kelly Thomas case) is going to lead to any sort of solution,” said Travis Kiger, a former city councilmember.
Kiger was elected to the City Council at the June recall election when three council members were ousted over the Kelly Thomas case.
At the City Council meeting where he was appointed, Hughes said he will deal with officers who engage in brutality in the future and said the department has lacked direction without a permanent police chief, which it had not had for 17 months.
“We are going to make sure that when a police officer in Fullerton has a badge, that if they betray that badge and that oath that they payed, they are going to pay a price for that,” Hughes said at the meeting.
While Fullerton crime trends varied, Cal State Fullerton suffered across-the-board crime increases in 2012 compared to 2011. The campus had a heavy wave of bike thefts last year, said University Police Capt. John Brockie.
CSUF reported 129 stolen bikes in 2012, nearly triple the number from 2011. There were 46 bike thefts in 2011, according to University Police crime data.
The dorms attract the most bike thefts, recording 33 stolen bikes last year, according to the 2012 crime report.
Out of 17,000 police patrols and area checks on campus last year, about 2,000 were to the dorms, the highest police check and theft-prone area.
Brockie said campus police have recognized the crime uptick at the dorms and plans are being made to create a University Police sub-station designated as a community resource cente
“We’re trying to get a semi-permanent location over there and using the community-oriented policing model, have that accessibility, build the relationship with the housing residents over there so there’s a comfort level to report things to us and have conversations that will hopefully prevent crimes,” said Brockie.
Brockie said the department’s crime prevention unit and community service officers will use the sub-station, which does not have a location or timetable set.
There were 305 total crimes, mostly thefts, at Cal State Fullerton last year, a slight rise on the past two years. But the campus reports very few violent crimes, like assaults, and has not had a homicide on campus since at least 2009, the last year data was available. There was one on-campus suicide in 2012, but the victim was not a student, Brockie said.
Brockie said the CSUF campus has always been safe against violent crimes.
“I think it’s very safe (but) there’s always room for improvement unless you have zero crime stats. But if you look at the crimes against people, assaults and stuff like that, our number’s very low compared to other campuses our size,” Brockie said.