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Number Of Car Thefts In San Diego County Hits 30-Year Low

The number of vehicles stolen in the San Diego region hit a 30-year low last year, the San Diego Association of Governments reported Thursday.

In 2013, 11,288 vehicle thefts were recorded in San Diego County, according to SANDAG'S annual study of crime statistics in the region's 18 cities and unincorporated areas. That was down from 12,216 in 2012 and 11,346 in 2011.

However, the decline in vehicle thefts has been far greater over a longer period of time. The SANDAG study says more than 24,000 cars and trucks were being pilfered annually in the middle of the last decade.

The worst year for auto theft was 1989, when nearly 41,000 cars were taken. The rash in auto thefts in those days led to creation of a regional task force to get a handle on the problem.

The study, which showed reported property crimes overall rose less than 1 percent last year from 2012, mainly presented raw data and did not include comment on reasons for trends.

The overall property crime rate was 22.34 per 1,000 population, the fourth lowest since 1984.

The SANDAG study found that 86 percent of all crimes reported to law enforcement in San Diego County fell into one of the categories for property offenses, including burglaries, thefts and stolen vehicles. Thefts, referred to as larcenies in the report, made up 64 percent of the property crimes, representing a total loss of $176 million.

SANDAG also found that a 10 percent jump in violent crime in the region in 2012 was not repeated in 2013, when it instead fell by 5 percent.

The violent crime rate in the region's 18 cities and unincorporated areas last year was 3.66 per 1,000 in population, the second-lowest level in the last 30 years, according to the study.

Murders dropped from 107 countywide in 2012 to 72 last year, fueled by a reduction in gang killings and deaths related to child abuse, according to the report.

In other violent crime categories, the number of reported rapes and robberies each decreased by 4 percent last year, while aggravated assaults fell by 5 percent.

Local law enforcement and political leaders blamed the 2012 crime increase on the state of California's realignment of public safety, which returned many prison inmates to local custody and resulted in some early releases.

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