San Diego County has seeing a slight rise in hate crimes over the past two years, according to a new FBI report.
In an exclusive interview with NBC 7, FBI Special Agent Darrell Foxworth said hate crimes have risen by 26 percent since 2012.
“That may sound like a lot, but when you’re dealing with smaller numbers, percentages can be misleading,” Foxworth explained.
In 2012, San Diego had 34 hate crimes, and that number rose to 43 the next year. Nationally, the FBI counted 5,928 in 2013, a drop from the year before. The FBI gathers those statistics from reporting law enforcement agencies throughout the country.
A hate crime differs from a typical assault because the offender is motivated to commit a crime based on someone’s race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender.
"I think sometimes people think other crimes may get more publicity, but when you actually sit down and look at the numbers, nationally that's not the case," said Foxworth.
In the U.S., race was the largest motivator for hate crimes at 48.5 percent, and more than two-thirds of racial hate crime was against black people, 21.2 percent was against white people and 4.6 percent against Asian people.
Religion also played a factor, accounting for 17.4 percent of hate crimes. About 60 percent of those victims were Jewish and 13.7 percent were Muslim.
Sexual orientation accounted for 20.8 percent of all hate crimes in 2013, the majority against gay men.
“I think it’s important to know the information, digest it and be aware of it,” Foxworth told NBC 7.