Less than ten percent of rapes reported to San Diego Police Department since 2013 have resulted in arrests, according to data obtained by NBC 7 Investigates.
From January 1, 2013 to June 30, 2019, there were 2,954 rapes reported to San Diego Police. Of those, 279 resulted in an arrest whereas 2,205 are listed as “open and workable” cases.
The small number of arrests show some of the challenges for law enforcement in San Diego and throughout the country in solving violent sex crimes.
Rape, according to a new report by The Atlantic, is the most difficult violent crime to solve. Of the 125,000 estimated rapes reported in the United States each year, only two percent result in an arrest, according to the report. That means 49 out of 50 suspects are free.
Vern Griffin-Tabor heads the Center for Community Solutions, San Diego’s largest rape crisis center. Tabor tells NBC 7 that while the number of arrests and prosecutions are low, more shocking is the number of rapes that go unreported.
“So much of that has to do with victim-blaming, and the victims not wanting to relive the trauma,” says Griffin-Tabor. “There are also issues with a lack of trust in the system, as well as so many other variables that play into it, such as the fact that in the vast majority of cases the survivors know the perpetrator.”
Those variables result in difficulties for police to investigate the crime.
Despite those difficulties, San Diego’s Police Department has a higher arrest-rate than seen on a national level.
The data obtained by NBC 7 Investigates shows that when adding the number of cases currently open and those cases where police have identified a suspect but are unable to move forward, the suspect remains free just over 91 percent of the time. That compared to the national average of 98 percent, as reported by The Atlantic.
As for the locations of rapes reported to police, when broken down by zip codes, San Diego’s 92101 zip code, which includes Downtown San Diego, had the highest number of rapes reported or 429 cases. The area around Pacific Beach had the second highest concentration of reported rapes since 2013 with 201 rapes reported. Mid-City and City Heights zip codes had 384 rapes reported in that same time period.
Nearly twenty percent occurred when the victim was either drugged or unconscious. Of the total, four percent of the victims were minors.
“The last thing we want to do is push a victim that may not be ready to come forward and file a report,” says Lieutenant Shawn Takeuchi with the San Diego Police Department. “If they decide to file then we help. If not, we respect that.”
Takeuchi says the department’s Sex Crimes Division has 14 specially trained investigators all with the goal of solving all sex crimes but have to proceed with the victim’s wishes in mind.
“We will never, ever, push something that the victim does not wish to have happen.”