Two homicides were among the 226 violent crimes committed in La Mesa during 2012, according to the quarterly crime report that police chief Ed Aceves gave at the February 12 La Mesa City Council meeting. He said there were 227 violent crimes in 2011. His report for the last three months of 2012 included information about the entire year.
Aceves said that a suspect was arrested within five days of the October 4 shooting death of a man living on Amarillo Avenue. The suspect was awaiting trial, he said. The other homicide was a man on Johnson Drive who died September 22, the day after he was shot in the face, according to a police report. "I'm hoping by the next quarterly report that we'll have someone in custody," Aceves said.
The number of property crimes increased by 13 percent from 1533 in 2011 to 1732 incidents last year. Thefts accounted for 1180 of property crimes in 2012, and 535 cases involved thefts from motor vehicles. Aceves reminded the public not to leave valuables like laptops and phones where criminals could see them.
Grossmont Center Drive and Fletcher Parkway were the top streets for stolen vehicles in 2012, with 15 cars taken at each location. Those figures included 9 vehicles stolen at Grossmont Center. Hondas accounted for 63 of the 201 cars taken in La Mesa during 2012. The Honda Accord was the most frequently stolen car, with the Honda Civic ranking as the second most stolen vehicle. According to the report, thieves took 17 Toyotas, 17 Nissans, 13 Fords, and 8 Hyundais.
By the end of 2012, authorities recovered 61 percent of the stolen vehicles and solved 3 percent of cases. The San Diego Police Department recovered 28 percent of the vehicles; La Mesa police recovered 14 percent; the San Diego Cointy Sheriff's Department made 8 percent of recoveries; the California Highway Patrol recovered 4 percent and the El Cajon Police Department made 3 percent of recoveries.
There were 249 residential burglaries last year, and Aceves told the council that latent fingerprints in homes led to several arrests. Fingerprints were among the evidence that resulted in the October 30 arrest of two juveniles suspected of committing 14 residential burglaries during the previous six months. In addition, DNA analysis led to the arrest of a suspect in the June 1 burglary of a Normal Avenue home.
Furthermore, Aceves said that after the December shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School that he and school resource officers (SROs) met with principals in La Mesa and Spring Valley to discuss strategies to provide security and actions that school could take. "My staff is doing the best they can to provide visibility around the schools," he said.
Aceves’s written report detailed other SRO activity that included "numerous home visits regarding truant students." SROs made six arrests for truancy, two for vandalism, and one arrest for each of the following: marijuana possession, weapons possession on school grounds, and a hit-and-run.