San Diego

Homicide, Rape Up Slightly Despite Low Violent Crime Rate: Study

While violent crime in San Diego County last year had one of the lowest rates in the last four decades, homicides and rapes were up, according to a new study from the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).

SANDAG's Criminal Justice Research Division analyzed regional crime data from local law enforcement agencies to compare crime data from 1980 to 2018 and compile it into their annual crime report.

The study found violent crime -- homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault -- remained steady from 2017 to 2018 and on-trend with the rest of the country. The rate was one of the lowest in the last four decades.

Though, Dalia Tostado, a mother and Escondido resident for 16 years, said she feels the community’s crime is worse due to incidents at schools and hate crimes.

“For my kids to be out in the streets, to me, it’s not safe,” Tostado said. “I don’t want them to be on their skateboards or riding their bikes, you know, to the store or whatever. I just don’t feel comfortable with that.”

There were 87 homicides in the San Diego region in 2018, seven more than in 2017 and the majority stemming from an argument. Domestic violence was the motive in the killings 16 percent of the time, according to the data.

However, the number of rapes increased by 6 percent from the year before and aggravated assault as a whole was up as well.

Violent crime against seniors also jumped by 11 percent between 2017 to 2018, though the study says that may, in part, be attributed to a larger population of seniors.

Overall, the violent crime rate has been steadily on the decline since reaching its peak in 1992, amid a surge of methamphetamine use that likely accounted for the spike in crime, SANDAG said.

“I’ve lived here since I was 10 years old. Moved to Los Angeles for five years, and I moved back to Escondido because of the situation and the violence in Los Angeles,” said Lisa Barrett, a teacher and mother. “I had a situation happen the other night where (my kids’ car) broke down in the road, and the police were there, helping them right away. They were really happy and felt really safe, and so do I.”

The same study found property crime in San Diego County reached its lowest rate in the last four decades, though one in every 59 residents fell victim to it last year.

The property crime rate of just under 17 percent per 1,000 people was the lowest rate in the last 39 years.

“That makes me feel a little bit okay when my son forgets to lock the front door. And I come home, and the house is still intact,” Barrett told NBC 7.

The number could be lower though, the study noted. Of the 8,267 burglaries reported in 2018 -- accounting for $182 million worth of goods -- half of those cases did not have any forced entry in the crime, meaning they may have been prevented if the property was secured.

The study also found that shoplifting in San Diego County was also on the decline. There was, however, an increase in the number of stolen bicycles.

SANDAG used local crime data from the FBI Index and data from the Automated Regional Justice Information System (ARJIS) to come up with their analysis.

The FBI Index includes four violent offenses (willful homicide, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) and three types of property crime (burglary, larceny theft, and motor vehicle theft).

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