Attorney General Lockyer Announces Homicides and Violent Crime Decreased 2.2 Percent During First Three Quarters of 2003

Overall Decrease in Violent Crime Countered by Increase in Property Crimes

Wednesday, January 7, 2004
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced violent crime in the state's largest cities dropped 2.2 percent and homicides decreased 7 percent during the first nine months of 2003. But an increase in property crimes of 4.7 percent raised the overall crime rates by 2.3 percent over the same period in 2002.

"At a time when California is dealing with a budget crisis and our resources are stretched thin, law enforcement has continued to fight back against violent crime," Lockyer said. "The significant decrease in homicides shows a positive turn-around and demonstrates the judgment and bravery that make our law enforcement officers everyday heroes. "

In the preliminary report, "Crime in 2003, January through September," law enforcement agencies serving populations of 100,000 or more reported the number of violent crimes dropped by 2,418 incidents from the same period in 2002. Decreases were reported for all four violent crimes: homicides (down 7 percent), forcible rape (down 2.4 percent), robbery (down 0.1 percent), and aggravated assault (down 3.2 percent).

There were 9,506 more property crimes reported during the first nine months of 2003, compared to the same period in 2002. Most of the increase was driven by an 8.2 percent jump in motor vehicle theft. Burglary inched up by 1.1 percent.

"This report is noteworthy because of the decrease in homicides in California," Lockyer said. "The increase in overall crime is primarily due to rising property crimes, which we tend to see during tough economic times."

The preliminary report is based on crime figures reported by police and sheriff's departments that provide law enforcement protection for 79 of the state's largest jurisdictions. These jurisdictions account for approximately 65 percent of the crimes reported in California.

Crime rates per population are not used in this report, but are included in the comprehensive annual "Crime in California" publication, which will be released later this year. The preliminary report is available on the Attorney General's web site at http://ag.ca.gov/cjsc/publications/ninemorpt/js03/rpt.pdf

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