Local crime rates fall, county rates rise

Five-hour San Marcos mobile home SWAT standoff over murdered turtle...and alleged terroristic threats.

People may have behaved badly this year, but they’re behaving a lot less badly around San Marcos, about the same around Escondido and somewhat greater around Valley Center than last year.

Overall, crime rates in these three communities combined dropped this year compared to last year, bucking a trend that found overall countywide rates rising. This, according to mid-year 2016 crime statistics compiled by SANDAG and released recently, the only comprehensive reporting of regional crime statistics. For more, visit mid-year-2016-crime-statistics-for-the-san-diego-region.

Someone was doing something right at San Marcos as overall crime, according to FBI statistics as crime dropped 22 percent this year compared to 2015. Looking in the way-back machine to 2012, crime dropped 26 percent.

Escondido came out even-Steven with crime rising one percent over same time, 2015. However, the tale of the tape compared to 2012 was more favorable as crime dropped 13 percent

Valley Center was a different story. Crime rose 13 percent in the last year. It wasn’t all bad news though. Despite the rise this year, crime dropped 24 percent overall compared to 2012.

Overall in San Diego County, crime rose 4 percent this year, but dropped 9 percent since 2012.

When it came to violent crime, Escondido experienced a 5 percent drop this year, and 18 percent drop since 2012. San Marcos violent crime was up 3 percent, but down 19 percent since 2012. Valley Center showed no change this year and a 10 percent drop since 2012.

As for property crimes, not so hot Escondido as that category rose 2 percent this year although it dropped 12 percent compared to 2012. San Marcos property crimes dropped 26 percent this year, 27 percent since 2012. Valley Center property crimes dropped 1 percent this year, 30 percent since 2012.

People were behaving less badly around Escondido, San Marcos and Valley Center this year than last year, according to FBI crime statistics compiled by SANDAG.

People were behaving less badly around Escondido, San Marcos and Valley Center this year than last year, according to FBI crime statistics compiled by SANDAG.

Local crime rates offered rays of hope, but such was not the case countywide as property and violent crimes were up, up and away.

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 on August 31, 2016, 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).

Region-wide, 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,” Burke said.

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.

Tale of the crime data tape.

Tale of the crime data tape.

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.

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