Attorney General Lockyer Releases Report Showing Slight Decrease in Violent Crimes in 2003

Preliminary Report Indicates Property Crimes Rose 2.8 Percent

Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that preliminary statistics show a slight dip in violent crimes, which dropped 3.1 percent, while property crimes rose 2.8 percent in the state's most populous cities and counties in 2003.

"Protecting the personal safety of Californians is an essential function of government. The decrease in violent crime is evidence of the fine job being performed by members of police, sheriffs' and district attorneys' offices throughout the state," Lockyer said. "In contrast, an increase in property crimes is something we expect to see during difficult economic times. As state and local lawmakers evaluate the tough decisions necessary to balance their budgets, I strongly encourage them to preserve law enforcement funding that is critical to protecting the public safety of all Californians."

The Preliminary Report – Crime in California 2003 shows all four crimes included in the "violent crime" category decreased in 2003 compared to the previous year. Homicide dropped 3.5 percent, forcible rape decreased 2.4 percent, and robbery and aggravated assault decreased 2.9 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively.

Spurred by a 6.7 percent jump in motor vehicle theft, overall property crimes inched up slightly when compared to 2002. Burglary increased 1.0 percent and larceny-theft of $400 or more increased 0.3 percent. Arson fell 3.8 percent.

Jurisdictions reporting the largest increases in motor vehicle theft included Bakersfield, 42.6 percent; Modesto, 38.9 percent; Pomona, 34.8 percent; Salinas, 52.8 percent; Lancaster, 35.6 percent and San Joaquin County, 54.6 percent.

The number of homicides committed in 2003 appear similar to 2002 figures. In Oakland, for example, there was 0.9 percent increase in the number of homicides. However, several jurisdictions reported marked decreases, including Long Beach, 26.9, and Los Angeles, 21.6 percent.

Forcible rapes throughout the state also dropped slightly with several communities reporting large decreases: Pomona, 36.4 percent; San Jose, 26.4 percent; Riverside County, 25.4 percent; San Bernardino County, 26.7 percent; Stanislaus County, 30.5 percent; and Palmdale, 23.2 percent.

The preliminary figures examine the number of major crimes reported in 79 cities and counties with populations of 100,000 or more. These 79 jurisdictions account for approximately 65 percent of all crimes reported in the state.

The report reflects two changes from crime reports issued in the past. First, the use of the California Crime Index has been temporarily suspended until a new national crime index is established by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

Second, the "larceny-theft over $400" category is now included in the "property crime" category to give a more representative depiction of crime in California and to better reflect the FBI's definition of property crimes. These changes also are planned for the more comprehensive Crime in California report which will reflect figures from all jurisdictions and will be released later this year.

A copy of the Preliminary Report – Crime in California 2003 report is available on the Attorney General's website at http://ag.ca.gov/cjsc/publications/preliminarys/jd03/jd03net.pdf.

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