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Property crime in the region declined 13 percent in the first half of 2014, while arsons spiked

Property crime dropped by 13 percent and violent crime decreased by 1 percent in the first half of 2014 compared to the same period last year, but arsons increased by 21 percent, according to a SANDAG report released today.

Sixteen of 19 local jurisdictions experienced decreases in property crime, ranging from a 3 percent drop in La Mesa to a 37 percent drop in Del Mar. This represents a dramatic turnaround compared to a year ago, which saw property crime spike by 5 percent between mid-year 2012 and 2013.

“There are many theories as to why we are experiencing historic drops in crime,” SANDAG Criminal Justice Research Director Dr. Cynthia Burke said.
“The local law enforcement officials we’ve talked to attribute some of the decreases in property crime to factors such as proactive supervision of ex-offenders, the use of forensic technology to identify serial criminals, and cross-jurisdictional sharing of intelligence to combat crime trends.”

A total of 30,549 property crimes were reported to local law enforcement in the first six months of 2014. This translates into an annualized rate of 19.40 per 1,000 residents, down from 22.23 in 2013. Sixty-five percent of the property crimes were larcenies, 19 percent burglaries, and 16 percent motor vehicle thefts. Notably, larcenies declined 12 percent in mid-year 2014 compared to mid-year 2013, after two years of increases.

There were 216 arsons reported in the region in the first half of 2014, up from 179 in the first half of 2013. Six of ten local law enforcement agencies reported increases.

Other notable crime statistics:

• A total of 5,400 violent crimes (homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) were reported in the first half of 2014. This translates into an annualized rate of 3.43 per 1,000 residents, down from 3.45 in mid-2013.

• There were 38 homicides in the first of half of 2014, a 7 percent decline from the 41 reported in mid-2013. The San Diego region’s homicide rate is relatively low compared to other metropolitan areas. Los Angeles, which has a population of 3.86 million (San Diego County’s population is 3.15 million), had 133 homicides at mid-year 2013. Chicago, with a population of 2.71 million, experienced 179 homicides during the same six-month period.

• The number of rapes across the region increased to 376 in the first half of 2014, up 20 percent from the 314 that occurred in the same period last year. While assaults on females by serial offenders appear to be on the rise, this large increase does not reflect a trend at this point. Over the past few years, the number of rapes has fluctuated. The latest increase follows a 16 percent drop from 2012 to 2013, a 27 percent increase from 2011 to 2012, and three prior decreases between 2008 and 2011.

• Over half (52 percent) of burglaries at mid-year 2014 involved entry through an open door or window, 34 percent were forced, and 11 percent were unsuccessful. (For the remaining 3 percent, the method of entry was unknown.)

• A total of 8,331 domestic violence incidents were reported to law enforcement in the first half of 2014, representing an increase of 4 percent from mid-year 2013 and a decrease of 2 percent from mid-year 2010.

• Motor vehicle theft decreased by 12 percent: 5,004 vehicles were stolen in the first half of 2014, compared to 5,655 stolen in the first half of 2013.

Through a partnership with law enforcement, the SANDAG Criminal Justice Clearinghouse has been compiling and analyzing crime statistics from the 18 jurisdictions and unincorporated parts of the county since 1980. With this historical analysis, policy makers and others can track change over time and across jurisdictions to better understand how effective different law enforcement strategies are, as well as how crime patterns may be displaced or influenced.

The entire mid-year crime statistics report, with data broken down by jurisdiction, is available at sandag.org/cj. An accompanying CJ Flash, which summarizes the findings in a one-page, easy-to-understand format, also is available at sandag.org/cj.

Project Manager(s)

For media inquiries, please contact the SANDAG Public Information Office at (619) 699-1950 or pio@sandag.org.