Safety in Sunnyvale
As the seventh largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area and an active participant in Silicon Valley’s high tech revolution Sunnyvale, California is an up and coming place. The almost 150,000 people who call it home appreciate its gentle climate and many parks as well as its booming economy and impressive schools. These residents come from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds and often find work in the tech sector at such illustrious local companies as Lockheed Martin, Apple, and Google. For the most part it is a peaceful and prosperous city.
Available crime statistics tell an interesting story, however. While chances of being the victim of violent crime are extremely low, the number of residents who experience some form of property crime is significantly higher. Violent crime rates in Sunnyvale are only 47% as high as those in the rest of the country, with only 1 out of every 877 people falling victim to assault, rape, and aggravated robbery. Only one person was reported murdered in Sunnyvale last year.
In comparison, 1 out of 63 people experienced some form of property crime. This includes burglary, theft, and vehicle theft. Per square mile the property crime rates are actually higher in Sunnyvale’s city limits than the California average. These statistics likely reflect the city’s comparative affluence. An influx of new residents and raise of quality of living both followed the tech sector into Sunnyvale, giving rise to increased rates of property theft and damage.
Sunnyvale’s only police station is located at 700 All American Way, near the southern border of the city. This singular police department is fairly unique in that it operates as a unified Department of Public Safety. All police personnel are also trained as firefighters and EMTs, meaning that any member of the force is able to respond to any type of public or private emergency. This system was implemented over half a century ago and is now being emulated across the state by other departments hoping to cut costs over time.
Although the presence of these highly trained public defenders is comforting as it pertains to the extremely important tasks of stopping fires and saving lives, it may give some homeowners pause, as it represents a further spreading of resources that, with only one department to cover all of Sunnyvale, are already spread quite thin. Should there be numerous emergencies occurring at the same time, it may be less likely that homeowners experience a timely police response to non-violent crimes such as home invasion and burglary.
One official Neighborhood Watch association exists within Sunnyvale that seeks to take the protection of homes and their inhabitants and contents into its own hands. The American Family Neighborhood Watch does operate in Sunnyvale, although its area of coverage actually includes all of Santa Clara county, of which Sunnyvale is only one part.
Many residents respond to the comparative lack of crime response resources by taking measures of their own. Home Security systems in Sunnyvale are quite popular, with over a dozen local and national security companies serving the area. This should come as no surprise when considering that one in four homes in the area are at risk for being burglarized every year. Average losses during these burglaries amount to almost $2,000, and in my cases are much higher.
The growing popularity of home alarm systems has triggered an interesting response from the city. Permits are required through the city’s residential alarm permitting program prior to installation. The intention of the city in establishing this permitting system was to decrease the number of costly false alarms, which is sometimes as high as 99.7%. In addition to implementing a permitting process, the Sunnyvale city counsel has also enacted an ordinance that allows fees to be charged to homeowners who cause frequent false alarms. It works on a tiered billing structure, and is intended to remove an unnecessary burden from the Department of Public Safety in addition to making homeowners safer in actual emergencies.
The department offers several recommendations for those who have installed home alarms and are looking to avoid costly fees. They insist on the importance of familiarizing any household members with the individual alarm system being installed and its operation, and ensuring that all windows and doors are secured prior to turning on the alarm. Because environmental changes can also affect alarm performance, they also require periodic routine inspections and maintenance be performed by a qualified technician. Although these regulations and fees can seem like an inconvenience at first glance, they can help to save lives and property if adhered to.
It’s also important to ensure that all alarms are professionally installed. The companies most frequently used by Sunnyvale residents for alarm installations include Sherlock Surveillance, whose main office is located in San Jose, Weststar Integrated Systems based out of Los Banos, and Home Alarm, LLC. Many acclaimed national companies such as ADT, Nationwide Security Solutions, and SafeStreets USA also serve the area.
For those already living within city limits or those considering a move, crime need not be a determining factor. It’s an unfortunate reality that in today’s world no city is completely free of crime, but generally speaking Sunnyvale is quite safe. In fact nationally it ranks quite high on all accredited lists of safest cities. Combined with the installation of a home Alarm System, these statistics should give Sunnyvale residents and potential residents a good deal of peace of mind.