Motor vehicle theft declines in California, but violent crime increases

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has released the Department of Justice’s “Crime in 2006, January Through June” preliminary report showing property crime decreased by 2.8 percent compared to the same period in 2005, while violent crime increased by 4.1 percent for the state’s most heavily populated areas.

The report shows all three of the property crime categories decreased. Burglary decreased 2.1 percent, motor vehicle theft decreased 4 percent and larceny-theft over $400 decreased by 1.9 percent. The report also shows larceny-theft, involving property valued at $400 and under, decreased 6.9 percent, while arson increased by 5 percent. However, all violent crime categories increased, except aggravated assault, which decreased by 2 percent. Homicides increased by 4.5 percent, forcible rape increased by 4.3 percent and robbery increased 14.5 percent.

The report compares preliminary crime data from January through June 2006 with reported final counts for the same period in 2005 for law enforcement jurisdictions in California serving populations of 100,000 or more. The 82 jurisdictions that met that criteria in 2006 included cities and unincorporated areas of counties and account for approximately 65 percent of the crimes reported statewide. Crime rates were not calculated in the report.

“It is positive to see property crimes declining after several years of steady increases largely due to frequent spikes in motor vehicle theft,” Lockyer said. “Although violent crime remains at its lowest level in decades, even a small increase is a matter of great concern.”

Lockyer noted that his office will continue its efforts with local law enforcement agencies throughout the state and work cooperatively with schools and communities to keep California communities safe.

The report, “Crime in 2006, January Through June,” is available on the Attorney General’s Web site at http://ag.ca.gov/cjsc/publications/preliminarys/jj06/jj06.pdf.