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County Crime Rate Hits 30-Year Low

Rates of violent and property crime in the San Diego area hit new, 30-year lows once again last year, according to an annual regional report released today.

The exception to the downward trend was homicides, which rose 22 percent from the previous year, the San Diego Association of Governments study found.

There were 82 homicides in the county in 2011, nearly two-thirds of which occurred in the first six months of the year.

Domestic violence accounted for 30 percent of those deaths -- up from 18 percent a year earlier, the regional agency reported.

The analysis, "Thirty Years of Crime in the San Diego Region: 1982 through 2011,'' details crimes for all 18 cities and the unincorporated areas of the county. It is intended to serve as a tool for local law enforcement agencies in gauging the success of enforcement strategies and crime-prevention programs.

San Diego-area communities "remain some of the safest in the nation," said Cynthia Burke, director of criminal justice research for SANDAG.

"However, with that said, recent legislation will increase the number of offenders and ex-offenders under local supervision, instead of state supervision,'' Burke noted. "This shift will continue to create growing demands on law enforcement and community-supervision agencies tasked with maintaining public safety at the historical lows we have had the last few years.''

Other findings in this year's edition of the report include:

-- The 82 homicides in 2011, up from 67 the previous year, represented the first increase since 2006. Where motives could be discerned, three dominated -- arguments, domestic violence and gang-related incidents. Financial concerns accounted for 3 percent. Homicides peaked at 278 in 1991.

-- Across the county, the violent-crime rate dropped to 3.41 per 1,000 residents, a 30-year low. Violent crime peaked at 9.76 incidents per 1,000 in 1992.

-- Robberies dropped 9 percent, the largest one-year decline in the violent crime category.

-- There were 660 rapes and attempted rapes reported in San Diego County in 2011, an overall decline of 2 percent. However, reports of attempted rapes increased 31 percent, from 126 to 161, while rapes declined 10 percent, from 553 to 499.

-- Residential burglaries dropped 8 percent, but non-residential burglaries decreased less than 1 percent.

-- Larcenies were down in general, though there were more reports of bicycle thefts in 2011.

-- There were 65,097 property crimes reported in 2011 -- one for every 50 residents, down from one for every 34 a year earlier. Thieves made off with $157.6 million worth of property in 2011, one-fourth of which was recovered.

-- Auto thefts declined 10 percent. Last year, 11,346 vehicles were stolen -- one in every 207 registered in the county.

-- Incidents of arson fell from 366 in 2010 to 318 last year. Of those, 47 percent involved structures.

-- There were fewer hate crimes, compared to 2010 -- 111 versus 133, and more suspects, 152 as compared with 116. Motivations for hate crimes were divided among race/ethnicity at 56 percent, sexual orientation, 23 percent, and religion, 21 percent.


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