Property crimes down, violent crimes up in La Jolla area

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Statistics for 2022 in San Diego’s council District 1 show property crimes fell 12% compared with the year before but violent crimes rose 11.6%.


Crime statistics for 2022 in San Diego’s City Council District 1, which includes La Jolla, presented a mixed bag, with property crimes falling 12 percent compared with the year before but violent crimes rising 11.6 percent, according to city figures.

The decline in reports of property crimes — burglary, larceny and vehicle theft — was in line with the city as a whole, where they fell nearly 10 percent last year.

But violent crimes — aggravated assault, robbery, rape and homicide — rose at a higher rate in District 1 than citywide, where they increased 2.9 percent.

In District 1, whose neighborhoods also include Pacific Beach and Carmel Valley, there were 120 incidents of aggravated assault, 88 robberies, 23 rape cases and no homicides.

Larceny, or non-violent theft, accounted for the majority of property crimes in District 1 last year, with 1,661 incidents.

In looking at vehicle thefts — which increased 2.6 percent citywide, from 6,165 to 6,325 — police said recoveries of stolen vehicles dropped from 54 percent in 2021 to 35 percent in 2022.

In District 1, 29 percent of the nearly 400 stolen vehicles last year were recovered.

Among property crimes citywide, larceny saw the biggest reduction — nearly 15 percent from 2021 to 2022.

Hate crimes also decreased in 2022 — by about 17 percent, police said. Race-related bias accounted for more than half of all hate crimes committed last year, according to the Police Department.

Overall crimes across San Diego dropped by about 7.5 percent last year, drawing applause from Police Chief David Nisleit and Mayor Todd Gloria, who noted it came as the Police Department continues to struggle with a staffing shortage. As of this week, the department was down about 200 officers.

The rise in violent crime was attributed largely to a jump in robberies, which increased more than 18 percent citywide from 2021 to 2022. Nisleit said carjackings and armed robberies of pedestrians were some of the crimes that fueled the rise.

Aggravated assaults rose by about 1 percent citywide.

Despite the increase, San Diego continues to have one of the lowest violent crime rates — 4.2 per thousand residents — among the country’s largest cities, police officials said.

“San Diego remains one of the safest big cities in the nation, and we can never take that for granted,” Nisleit said. “SDPD will continue to focus on proactively preventing crimes before they occur and investigating cases to their full extent to bring justice for our communities.”

Cindy Burke, director of research and program management at the San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG, speculated that the increase in some violent crimes could stem from continuing hardship in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It could reflect economic challenges or other things communities are facing post-COVID,” Burke said.

Homicides throughout San Diego fell from 57 in 2021 to 51 in 2022, and rapes fell about 13 percent, from 571 to 496.

Non-fatal shootings decreased by 56 cases — about 23 percent — and crimes committed by gang members fell by 17 percent.

Nearly all forms of gang-related crime decreased last year, though drive-by shootings doubled from seven cases in 2021 to 14 in 2022.

District 3, which includes downtown San Diego and neighborhoods such as North Park and Hillcrest, saw the most violent crimes among the nine council districts last year.

Fewer crimes, or fewer reports?

Some questioned whether the city’s decrease in property crimes stemmed from fewer crimes happening or from fewer crimes being reported.

Jared Wilson, president of the San Diego Police Officers Association, noted that crimes of larceny are typically classified as Priority 2 calls, and police response times for those types of crimes have continued to climb, reaching nearly two hours, according to city budget documents.

“We know ... that many citizens don’t have the time to wait two hours for a theft report, thus many of these incidents go unreported,” Wilson said in a statement.

Nisleit said he doesn’t think fewer officers or longer response times were responsible for a decrease in larceny reports. Rather, he argued that Proposition 47, which changed some non-violent property crimes to misdemeanors, fuels underreporting in general.

“They don’t report because they don’t feel like anybody’s going to be held accountable,” Nisleit said.

Experts say crime in San Diego remains at near-historic lows when compared with rates in the 1980s and ‘90s. Rates of violent and property crimes have held fairly steady over the past decade. Current crime rates are comparable to the late 1950s, when the city’s population was much smaller, police officials said.

“While we’ve had ups and downs as a region, we are definitely much lower than where we were,” Burke said. ◆