Last week at the monthly Santa Barbara Association of Realtors meeting, we had a special speaker, Detective Gregs Hons from the Santa Barbara Police Department, Property Crimes Division. As ambassadors for Santa Barbara, Realtors often have to answer the question of those exploring our town, "How safe is Santa Barbara?"
It's often tough to field that question, as the answer is subjective unless the newcomer is coming to us from a highly urban area. The good news is, Detective Hons stated, "You will not be lying to your clients if you tell them Santa Barbara is a safe town."
Our violent crime rate is so low that locals have an excessive sense of security and often leave doors unlocked, keys in the car and that security system never hooked up.
Detective Hons stated that of the property crimes that are committed, 70 percent of the automobile break-ins and burglaries are committed on unlocked cars and homes. Our petty criminals are, by and large, nonviolent and nonconfrontational but highly opportunistic. Due to recent legislation at the state level, our local jails are "revolving doors" for this type of criminal. We could be doing a lot more as individuals to lessen Detective Hons' case files.
When asked about security systems, he remarked, "Those are great, when they're on." When asked about dogs, the detective treated us to a tale of a burglar and the canines that loved him. He said the best deterrent to break-ins of the automobile or home variety is to know your neighbors.
As Realtors, we have specific concerns with construction theft and open house burglaries. Detective Hons was happy to report that the rash of construction thefts that plagued Santa Barbara and Ventura County a couple of years ago has come to a halt after a combined effort to catch those responsible.
Also, he stated that he hadn't heard of any open house burglaries recently. I'd like to think that our efforts to educate our homeowners had some effect on stemming that tide of opportunistic theft.
Let's do our part by locking our doors and making friends with our neighbors. Click here for community information and SBPD alerts.
— Laurel Abbott is a real estate agent with Prudential California Realty and president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact her at email@example.com or 805.879.8050. The opinions expressed are her own.