Home burglaries in Isla Vista significantly declined in 2001, while the number of sexual assaults, alcohol-related offenses and arrests for couch fires did not change notably in the last year.
In 2000, the I.V. Foot Patrol responded to 537reports of property offenses – this includes residential, commercial and automobile burglaries – while only 315 were reported in 2001. The decrease in break-ins was evident in the unusually low number of burglaries during this year’s Winter Break.
IVFP Lt. Russ Birchim said some of the decrease could be attributed to the increasing number of students who are using the Foot Patrol’s vacation service checks, which allow residents to request that deputies routinely check up on their residences during the break.
“A lot of kids responded to the [vacation check service], which was good,” he said. “It gets bigger every year.”
The number of reported rapes between 2000 and 2001 fell from 23 to 20. However, in a two-week period in September 2001, two predator rapists were arrested after they reportedly fled their victims’ homes after assaulting them in their sleep and three date rapes were reported to the UCSB Women’s Center during the same period.
Alcohol-related offenses, such as minor in possession, public intoxication and open container violations, totaled 2,426 in 2001, with the majority of the arrests occurring during the fall. From the beginning of Fall Quarter through Halloween every year, the Foot Patrol enforces a “Fall Education Program” in which extra deputies are on patrol.
Although only 30 arrests were made, there were 86 couch fires in I.V. in 2001. Two people were also arrested on charges of “fueling a fire” – throwing things on top of burning couches to keep the fire ablaze.
Birchim said arson charges for couch burning could result in a $1,000 fine, 200 hours of community service and two years probation.
“We usually find out about [couch burnings] after the fact. Deputies walk around and hose down abandoned couches as a preventative measure,” he said. “A lot of kids try to hide their couches in their laundry room so we don’t hose them down.”