“While our population has increased, our crime rate has gone down,” he said of the city of about 125,000 people. “We’re happy we have an overall decrease in crime. We have a very supportive community and city government.” Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks continue to have relatively low crime rates, which have traditionally ranked them at or near the top of the list of safest cities in America with populations of 100,000 or more. In other parts of eastern Ventura County patrolled by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, officials said an increase in assaults might be because of an uptick in gang activity. Serious crime rose 6 percent in parts of Ventura County patrolled by sheriff’s deputies, 9 percent in Moorpark and 1 percent in Thousand Oaks, where police services are provided by the sheriff. Capt. Ron Nelson, a sheriff’s spokesman, said the department is concerned that a 23 percent increase last year in aggravated assaults countywide could be the result of increasing gang activity, mostly in the western part of the county. He said the department hopes to reduce assaults and other violent crimes this year with a new anti-gang unit made up of a sergeant and four deputies who will gather intelligence on gangs. “What we’re hoping to do is stay ahead of the curve and intercept the crimes before they occur,” he said. Nelson pointed to thefts of cell phones, music players and laptops from unlocked vehicles and said citizens can help keep crime down and protect themselves from being victimized by locking their car doors and keeping valuables hidden. “The public can have a large impact reducing crimes,” he said. Last year in Moorpark, serious crimes rose from 406 to 442. There was an 11 percent increase in robberies, to 10 for the year; an 18 percent increase in residential burglaries, to 40; and a 29 percent increase in grand thefts, to 112. But there were no homicides, rapes dropped to one and there was a 21 percent drop in auto thefts – to 22. In Thousand Oaks, the total number of serious crimes rose from 1,976 to 1,993. Residential burglaries were up 27 percent, to 167, and aggravated assaults were up 24 percent, to 128. There were no homicides, and robberies were down 27 percent, to 41. [email protected] (805) 583-7602160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SIMI VALLEY – In an increase police didn’t attribute to anything in particular, violent crime went up 15 percent in Simi Valley last year while overall crime dropped 9 percent. Crime figures, including the level of violent crime, typically fluctuate to some degree from year to year, and the 2006 increase apparently does not indicate any kind of trend. “We pay close attention to violent crime, but we can’t attribute the violent crime increase … to any specific cause,” said Sgt. Dave Livingstone, a spokesman for the Simi Valley Police Department. “Overall the violent-crime rate in Simi Valley remains extremely low relative to the population.” Although the number of violent crimes in Simi Valley increased from 172 in 2005 to 198 in 2006, overall serious crime decreased 9.2 percent in the city from 2,509 crimes in 2005 to 2,278 in 2006. While there were no homicides in Simi Valley in 2005, there were three in 2006. The number of rapes rose from 17 to 21, robberies jumped from 47 to 58 and aggravated assaults increased from 108 to 116. But property crimes, including burglary, theft and arson, dropped from 2,337 in 2005 to 2,080 in 2006. Simi Valley police said the serious-crime rate in the city is about 38 percent lower than it was 20 years ago in 1986, when it was 29.8 crimes reported per 1,000 residents. The decreasing crime rate in the city is the result of cooperation involving the police, the community and city officials, Livingstone said.