Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

Public Safety

San Diego County Property Crime Rate At 40-Year-Low, Violent Crimes Also Down

A San Diego police car parked in downtown San Diego, Oct. 24, 2018.
Susan Murphy
A San Diego police car parked in downtown San Diego, Oct. 24, 2018.

Property crime in San Diego County reached a new 40- year low in 2019, according to a report released Tuesday.

Property crime rates had also reached a 40-year low in 2018, but kept dropping in 2019 to set a new mark, according to the San Diego Association of Governments' Criminal Justice Research Division.

The agency's report, "Forty Years of Crime in the San Diego Region: 1980 Through 2019," found that


although the region's population has increased 80% over the past 40 years, the relative number of reported crimes has decreased significantly.

In 2019, there were 16.48 property crimes per 1,000 people, 3% lower than in 2018 and 74% lower than in 1980, when SANDAG began reporting regional crime statistics.

There were 7,694 burglaries reported in 2019 — a new 40-year low — compared to 8,267 in 2018, according to the report. Larceny also reached a 40- year low, dropping 2% from 38,815 in 2018 to 37,855 in 2019.

The most common type of larceny crime in 2019 was theft from inside motor vehicles (37%), followed by theft from buildings (25%) and shoplifting (14%).

Motor vehicle thefts saw an uptick last year, rising from 9,587 in 2018 to 9,681.


An average of $539,000 was stolen in the region per day in 2019, with 34% eventually recovered by law enforcement.

The county's 2019 violent crime rate was down 1% from the 2018 rate of 3.41 per 1,000 people. There were 86 homicides in 2019 — one fewer than in 2018 — and 2,889 robberies — 91 fewer than in 2018.

Despite the overall decline in crime rates, the report found that hate crimes increased 24% from 2018, with the three most common motives being anti-black, anti-Jewish and anti-homosexual (male).

The report defined a hate crime as "a criminal act committed in whole or in part because of the actual or perceived characteristics of the victim."

The only reported crimes to increase between 1980 and 2019 were rape and aggravated assault.

However, the report's authors noted that a 2015 change in California law enforcement's definition of rape and the implementation of domestic violence reporting requirements were likely contributing factors to those increases.

Last week, SANDAG released a report examining how four crime categories have been impacted by stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic.

That report looked at police reports in the county from the start of March to the end of April, then compared them to crimes reported during those two months in 2019. The analysis found that larceny crimes and simple assaults declined during that stretch, while domestic violence reports remained about the same and aggravated assaults increased slightly.

"As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change daily life for all of us, our team will keep working with law enforcement agencies across the region to document possible short- and long-term impacts of this public health crisis on public safety," said Dr. Cynthia Burke, SANDAG research and program management director.

KPBS has created a public safety coverage policy to guide decisions on what stories we prioritize, as well as whose narratives we need to include to tell complete stories that best serve our audiences. This policy was shaped through months of training with the Poynter Institute and feedback from the community. You can read the full policy here.