Arcata’s Safer Than Where You Came From, But Keep Your Guard Up – August 30, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lydia Leblanc & Kevin L. Hoover

Arcata Eye

(First, imagine an ominous minor chord droning in the background, and maybe Stone Phillips narrating… OK, got it? Here we go.) 

Arcata, once a sleepy backwater California coastal town depressed by the decline of the timber industry, is now a hotbed of drug crime fueled by dope-crazed industrial marijuana growers.

Sound familiar?

If you’re from out of town, you (or worse, your parents) have been subjected to various television news specials depicting Arcata as a hub of crime, overrun by armed drug cartels and pit bulls.

The fact is, however, that by and large, Arcata is a tolerably safe place to live, with less crime than average throughout these United States.

According to 2009 crime statistics (the most recent statistics released by the FBI, who track such things through police reports), the rate of violent crime in Arcata is very low, whereas the rate of property crime, while still below the U.S. average, is pretty close to what you’d experience anywhere else in Caifornia.

According to, there are 18 registered sex offenders living in Arcata (including two in Bayside), which is less than the national average.

Apart from violent crime, your destiny as a victim, or not, is pretty much up to you. While Arcata is as safe as it gets, there are still plenty of free-range opportunivores (which we call Slithy Toves) trying to steal your stuff.

The best way to avert victimhood is to not expose yourself to the thieves’ greasy paws.

If you leave your iPod in your unlocked car, it’s gone. If you lock the car but leave your iNugget in plain sight, it’s gone, along with the window.

The Slithy Toves, some of them acting with persistence, determination and mania that only crank can provide, actually go around trying car door handles all night. Seriously, just bring your stuff in with you.

If something bad happens, take the time to report it so the cops can build a case when they catch the bastids.

Around town, just observe the same precautions you would anywhere. Be aware of your surroundings and use your instincts. Don’t set yourself up as a victim.

Fortunately, we have two excellent and intelligent police forces in town with HSU and Arcata Police. They have a culture of problem solving, and would rather work things out amicably than arrest people. But don’t make the mistake of thinking there isn’t steel underneath the smiles.

By the way, if you screw up, there’s every chance that the units will find out, as we run all of UPD and APD’s press releases, and they’ve gotten pretty good at it.

The numbers above don’t reflect drug offenses, misdemeanors and other nimrodism.

For detailed information about recent Arcata police activity, check out or Like the Arcata Police Department Facebook page to get mug shots of vaguely familiar people posted to your wall.

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