SAN DIEGO–Property crime went up by 4 percent countywide in the first half of 2016, compared to the same time period last year, while violent crime increased by 1 percent, according to the mid-year crime report released by the SANDAG Criminal Justice Research Division.
The most striking increases in property crime were related to auto thefts and burglaries. Motor vehicle thefts increased 16 percent in the first half of 2016, compared to mid-year 2015 (5,551 vehicles stolen, up from 4,778) – an average of four more per day. Also on the rise were residential and commercial burglaries. The 5,291 burglaries reported in the San Diego region in the first half of 2016 represented an increase of 6 percent from the first half of 2015 (when there were 5,012).
Regionwide, the overall crime rate per 1,000 residents was 23.06, up 4 percent from mid-year 2015 (22.17), but still 30 percent lower than in 2006.
“Given the confounding factors that can affect crime rates, it is not possible at this point to draw any definitive conclusions as to what exactly is causing these slight increases. But despite the uptick, the current crime rate in our region is still far lower than what it was 10 years ago,” Dr. Cynthia Burke, Director of the SANDAG Criminal Justice Research Division, said. “Other West Coast cities also are seeing increases in crime, and we are watching the data closely.”
One category of violent crime – aggravated assaults – decreased by 1 percent, possibly because some assaults were reclassified as rape due to a new definition put in place by federal officials. In 2015, California law enforcement agencies began to use the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) broader Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) definition of rape. (UCR is a nationwide standard for reporting crimes.) The new definition of rape includes male victims, sodomy, penetration with any body part or objects, and no longer requires force. As a result of the change, the total number of violent crimes now includes incidents that would have previously been categorized differently.
The report also discusses other factors that may have played a role in the local mid-year crime rate: Assembly Bill 109 (public safety realignment), which shifted the responsibility for housing and supervising certain categories of offenders from the state to counties; and Proposition 47, a ballot initiative approved by California voters in November 2014 that reduced certain drug possession felonies to misdemeanors.
Below are highlights from the 2016 mid-year crime report:
A total of 5,409 violent crimes were reported to local law enforcement agencies in the region between January and June 2016, an average of 30 per day, about one more per day than the first half of 2015.
There were 558 rapes reported in the first half of 2016 using the new UCR definition, compared to 511 in the first half of 2015.
The number of robberies reported across the region increased 4 percent in the first half of 2016 (1,396) over mid-year 2015 (1,337).
There were 49 homicides in the first half of 2016, an increase of 14 percent over mid-year 2015, when 43 had occurred.
A total of 31,799 property crimes were reported in the first half of 2016. Sixty-six percent were larcenies, 17 percent burglaries, and 17 percent motor vehicle thefts. Property crimes make up the vast majority of crimes (85%) reported in the region.
Across property crime categories, burglaries were up 6 percent during the first six months of 2016, larcenies up by 1 percent, and motor vehicle thefts up by 16 percent.
Since 1980, the SANDAG Criminal Justice Clearinghouse has been compiling and analyzing crime statistics from the 18 cities and unincorporated parts of the county, and remains the only source for regional statistics. These data are useful to local law enforcement agencies as they track the effectiveness of their prevention and response efforts.