Violent crime in San Diego County increased 8 percent compared to last year, according to the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) annual crime report, 42 Years of Crime in the San Diego Region: 1980 through 2021.
SANDAG is the only local entity to compile and analyze these statistics historically across the 18 incorporated cities and unincorporated county areas. The report found that violent crimes, including homicide, rape, and aggravated assault, increased by 3 percent, 11 percent, and 12 percent, respectively, in 2021.
Although violent crime saw increases, robbery saw a 42-year low despite being categorized as a violent crime.
"While the 2021 crime rates are historic lows for our region, violent and property crimes were up last year," said SANDAG Senior Director of Data Science Dr. Cynthia Burke. "By using the data that SANDAG has collected over the past four decades, we have a much better understanding of crime patterns throughout our communities, helping public safety agencies and policymakers develop reduction strategies that more effectively address what is happening today.”
According to the report, the most common type of violent crime in 2021 was aggravated assault, representing 71 percent of all violent crimes; robbery represented 19 percent, rape 9 percent, and homicide 1 percent. Since reaching an all-time high in 1992, violent crime reached a 42-year low in 2014 and then stabilized somewhat in 2021.
The report found that violent crimes against seniors increased by 10 percent in the previous year. These crimes include 10 homicides, 30 rapes, 235 robberies, and 856 aggravated assaults.
Only seven of the 10 reporting agencies had numbers on violent crimes against seniors large enough to compare over time. Five agencies reported one-year increases, ranging from 7 percent for Chula Vista to 32 percent for El Cajon. The only two agencies reporting decreases were the Sheriff at 4 percent and Escondido at 26 percent.
The San Diego region recorded three more than in 2020, an 11 percent increase. Of the 118 homicides, a motive was determined for 84 cases.
“The most common motive was argument (32%), followed by gang-related (18%). Other motives rounded out the rest and included domestic violence, robbery/burglary, a lovers’ triangle, child abuse, institutional murders, and other motives not described,” the report read.
Although robbery is categorized as a violent crime, SANDAG found a general decline, with some levelling off and fluctuations. The report found 2,418 robberies, 55 percent being strong-arm, in the region in 2021, a decrease of 4 percent from 2020.
Burglaries also saw a decline and continued a non-year downward trend, and are the lowest it has ever been since SANDAG began reporting regional crime statistics in 1980. Property crime ranked second to lowest in the 42-year period, although it increased by 9 percent from 2020.
With 53,957 property crimes reported in 2021, 1 in every 62 residents was the victim of a property crime. The report found almost $244 million worth of property was stolen in the San Diego region in 2021, reflecting a 22 percent increase from the almost $200 million stolen in 2020.
Only one-third of the value of the stolen property was recovered.
Larceny, or theft, is the most common crime, with 1 in every 94 residents a victim in 2021. The most common larceny type for 2021 was theft from inside motor vehicles at 41 percent, including catalytic converters with a 71 percent increase.
Motor vehicle thefts have seen a 20 percent increase this past year, with more than 30 incidents across the 20 jurisdictions. According to the report, one in every 255 registered motor vehicles was stolen that year, with an estimated loss of $122.97 million, representing 50 percent of the total value of property stolen.
According to SANDAG, this data is used by local law enforcement, policymakers, and community leaders to examine public safety trends over time, prevention, and response efforts on regional crime rates.