Report: San Diego County violent crime down despite rise in homicides

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Violent crime dropped in San Diego County in the first half of the year for the first time in six years, even though the region saw a spike in the number of homicides, according to a report released Tuesday by the San Diego Association of Governments.

The report by SANDAG’s Criminal Justice Research Division found that the mid-year number of violent crimes in the county was 5,356 in 2020, down from 5,545 last year.

Mid-year violent crime totals from recent years were 5,510 in 2018; 5,421 in 2017; 5,361 in 2016; and 5,330 in 2015. The five-year increase amounted to a 4% bump in violent crime.

The report found there were 52 homicides in the first half of 2020, a dramatic increase from 38 homicides measured at the halfway point last year.

A month-by-month breakdown of the homicides this year showed that seven were recorded in January, three in February, 11 each in March and April, and 10 each in May and June. In 2019, January had five homicides, February had six, March and April each had six homicides, May had eight and June had seven.

Among homicides in which motive could be determined, 22% were attributed to robbery — compared to 4% last year — and 3% were attributed to gangs — down from 19% last year, according to the report. No homicides were attributed to domestic violence this year, while 19% of last year’s homicide were considered domestic violence-related.

The report also found that overall domestic violence cases reported to law enforcement in 2020 increased each month from January through March, then decreased slightly in April and May before rising 3% in June, compared to the same time in 2019.

“The zig-zag percentages of reports in domestic violence regionwide could be attributed to the pandemic,” SANDAG director of research and program management Cynthia Burkem said. “When you factor in social distancing, including families isolating together during stressful times and with less contact with mandated reporters, it could affect an individual’s willingness to report a crime to police.”

Reports of rape fell to 432 after reaching 539 at the midway point of 2019. Further analysis showed the biggest month-to-month changes from this year compared to last year were seen in April and May.

The number of reported robberies dropped 10% — from 1,410 in 2019 to 1,268 this year — while the number of aggravated assaults increased 1% — from 3,572 in 2019 to 3,604 this year.

Reports of property crime totaled 24,512 in the first half of this year, down from 27,239 during the same period in 2019.

In 2020, 3,624 burglaries were reported throughout the county, a 3% drop from the first half of 2019. Residential burglaries decreased 19%, but non- residential burglaries increased 9%.

Property crimes includes burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft. Violent crimes include, homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

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