Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) saw a drop in serious crimes in 2004 for the fourth consecutive year, while passenger volume grew by about ten percent last year, to 61 million, airport officials said.
LAX police reported that violent crime decreased 62 percent and property crime decreased five percent in 2004, but miscellaneous or “other” crime increased 37 percent, according to statistics.
The crime statistics are compiled from reports filed by LAX police and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) substation at LAX, and cover the 3,600 acres of airport property.
Violent crime had the largest percentage drop, with the number of incidents decreasing from 21 in 2003 to eight in 2004. None of the eight violent crimes reported were homicides, and the one reported rape was said to have occurred outside LAX, said Nancy Castles, LAX spokeswoman.
“We’re proud of the fact that violent crimes have decreased,” said Castles.
Property crime, which includes theft from people, businesses and vehicles, constituted 99 percent of all serious crime, police said. The number of property crime incidents decreased from 941 in 2003 to 898 in 2004, according to statistics.
The number of arrests at the airport increased 33 percent from 956 in 2003 to 1,272 last year.
“LAX continues to be one of the safest airports in the world, not to mention one of the safest areas in all of Southern California,” LAX Police Chief Bernard J. Wilson said.
Wilson attributed the decrease in serious crime incidents to continued crime prevention and law enforcement efforts, more officers and canines on patrol, crime trend analysis and surveillance cameras.
The number of incidents reported under miscellaneous or “other” crime, which is the largest single statistical category, increased from 1,067 in 2003 to 1,463 last year. Miscellaneous crime includes loitering, doing business without a license, disturbing the peace, forgery and public intoxication.
Under the miscellaneous category, drug-related crimes increased 49 percent, mostly due to newly enhanced passenger security screening procedures implemented by the Transportation Security Administration, officials said.
With the new screening procedures, passengers are required to remove jackets and other outerwear, and have pat-downs if secondary screening is needed, Castles said.
The screening procedures are a main reason that more drug-related offenses are being caught and more prohibited items are being found, she said.
“They have impacted the number of items that are being detected by federal security screening like undeclared weapons,” she said.
Castles said one of the most significant statistics was the eight incidents of violent crime, in view of an estimated total “population” of 140 million people at LAX in 2004, including passengers, non-traveling visitors and airport employees.
Airport officials have also learned that 17 percent of property theft victims reported that their property was later found in other belongings, or returned by the airlines or lost and found, she said.
“We will continue to focus on ensuring the personal safety of everyone that comes to the airport,” Castles said. “We will look at new methodology and technology to help us accomplish that.”