Overall crime at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in 2006 dropped 6.4 percent compared to the previous year, airport law enforcement officials said.

Property crime at LAX dropped 24 percent in 2006, and the passenger volume of more than 61 million travelers dropped by less than one percent from the 2005 level. The total number of crimes reported last year was 2,520, compared to 2,694 in 2005, according to crime statistics reported by law enforcement officials.

The crime statistics are compiled from reports filed by Los Angeles Airport Police and the Los Angeles Police Department substation at LAX. The statistics cover the 3,600 acres of LAX property, including passenger terminals, parking lots, aircraft ramps, cargo areas and offices.

“LAX continues to be one of the safest airports in the world, and one of the safest areas in all of Southern California,” said Los Angeles Airport Police Chief Brian A. Walker.

He attributed the results to proactive crime prevention and joint law enforcement efforts, increased uniformed and plain-clothes officers and canines on patrol, crime trend analysis and a comprehensive system of surveillance cameras.

Property crimes — which include nonviolent theft from individuals, as well as burglaries from businesses and vehicles — decreased 24 percent to 973 incidents in 2006, compared to 1,273 in 2005.

Theft from persons and petty and grand thefts dropped 20 percent to 850 incidents in 2006 from 1,068 in 2005.

Burglaries from airport businesses rose to 17 incidents last year from six in 2005, and most of these were reports of random shoplifting.

Vehicle burglaries (from locked cars) dropped 63 percent to 44 incidents last year from 118 in 2005. Theft from motor vehicles (from unlocked cars) dropped 34 percent to 46 incidents from 70 in 2005.

Out of about 14 million vehicles parked last year in the LAX passenger terminal area parking structures and economy parking lots, 16 vehicles were reported stolen, compared to 11 stolen vehicles out of 14.5 million vehicles parked at LAX in 2005.

“The majority of all property thefts at LAX were potentially preventable opportunity thefts, during which victims either did not pay attention to their belongings or surroundings, did not lock doors or close windows after parking their vehicles, or left valuable items in plain view in parked vehicles,” Walker said.

He added that officers conducted telephonic follow-up investigations in which 27 percent of property theft victims reported that their property was found in other belongings, or returned by the airlines or Airport Police’s Lost and Found Unit. Officers are continuing to contact property theft victims to determine whether more reports can be similarly cleared.

There were no homicides, rapes or kidnappings among the nine incidents of violent crime reported in 2006. This is compared to five incidents of violent crime in 2005, including the killing of an on-duty Airport Police officer.

The number of reported aggravated assaults remained the same, three incidents for both 2006 and 2005. The number of reported robberies increased to six last year from one in 2005.

However, according to Airport Police, no robberies have been reported since November 4th, when officers arrested three suspects who were allegedly about to commit a second robbery of a cashier’s booth in an airport economy parking lot.

In the airport environment, one arrest often leads to the resolution of several crimes, Airport Police say. The number of arrests dropped seven percent to 1,206 last year from 1,299 in 2005.

Reports of vandalism to vehicles increased from 48 in 2005 to 59 incidents last year. An estimated 25.7 million vehicles used Central Terminal Area roadways last year.

The number of simple battery incidents dropped 22 percent to 50 last year from 64 in 2005.

Miscellaneous “other” offenses, the largest single statistical category, increased nine percent to 1,429 incidents in 2006 from 1,304 in 2005.

However, Airport Police attribute this increase to proactive law enforcement actions and new federal passenger and checked-luggage screening measures.

Miscellaneous offenses include doing business without a license, misusing a handicapped placard, loitering, disturbing the peace, forgery, driving without a license or with a suspended license, possession of prohibited items or weapon violations, being drunk in public, and violations of the city’s solicitation ordinance.

Airport Police began enforcing the solicitation ordinance in November after a federal court injunction was lifted.

Proactive law enforcement actions by the Airport Police Ground Transportation Enforcement Unit, which regulates commercial vehicles within the Central Terminal Area, resulted in the arrests of several “bandit taxi” drivers allegedly operating illegally at LAX and the impoundment of 268 vehicles throughout the year.

LAX experienced a 24 percent decrease in drug-related offenses, totaling 142 incidents last year compared to 186 in 2005. Walker attributed much of this decrease to enhanced passenger security screening procedures implemented by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, including requiring passengers to remove jackets and other outerwear and pat-downs during secondary screening.

Also included in the miscellaneous category is the offense of attempting to carry a prohibited item (kitchen knife, fireworks, cigarette lighter, scissors) aboard an aircraft. The number of seized items decreased 56 percent to 101 last year from 233 in 2005.

Nearly all of the 153 weapon confiscations (brass knuckles, butterfly knife, firearms, batons, nunchakus) on airport property in 2006 occurred at federal passenger security screening stations. There were 147 weapons confiscated in 2005.

A reported 61,041,066 million travelers used LAX in 2006, a decline of seven-tenths of one percent from 61,489,523 passengers in 2005. Including non-traveling visitors and airport workers, airport officials estimate the total population of the airport in 2006 at 153 million.

The Los Angeles Airport Police Department is the fourth largest law enforcement agency in Los Angeles County, with more than 900 law enforcement, security and staff personnel.

Airport Police is a division of Los Angeles World Airports, the city department that owns and operates four airports in Southern California — LAX, LA/Ontario International (ONT), LA/Palmdale Regional (PMD) and Van Nuys general aviation (VNY).