SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A jump in homicides, auto thefts and burglaries between January and June led in part to a 4 percent increase in San Diego County's crime rate compared with statistics from the same period in 2015, according to a study released Wednesday by the San Diego Association of Governments.
Compared with 2015 mid-year statistics, the property crime rate in San Diego County was up 4 percent and the violent crime rate rose by 1 percent, according to SANDAG. However, the overall crime rate was 30 percent lower than in the same period in 2006.
"Given the confounding factors that can affect crime rates, it is not possible at this point to draw any definitive conclusions as to what exactly is causing these slight increases. But despite the uptick, the current crime rate in our region is still far lower than what it was 10 years ago," said Cynthia Burke, director of the SANDAG Criminal Justice Research Division.
Reports of stolen vehicles increased the most during the first six months of the year -- up 16 percent from 4,778 in 2015 to 5,551 this year, or an average of four more vehicles stolen per day, according to the agency's mid- year crime report. Arson reports were close behind with a 15 percent jump from 195 in the first half of last year to 224 this year.
The homicide rate rose by 14 percent, or one more per month. In the first half of this year, 49 homicides occurred in San Diego County, compared with 43 during the same time span in 2015, according to the report.
Rapes were up 4 percent from 2015, but SANDAG officials said the increase may stem from law enforcement officers using a broader definition of what constitutes a rape. The change may have also affected aggravated assault rates, which fell by 1 percent.
The 5,291 residential and commercial burglaries reported in the first half of 2016 was 6 percent higher than the 5,012 similar crimes during the same period a year ago. Robbery reports increased by 4 percent, but petty theft fell 2 percent.
SANDAG officials said property crimes made up 85 percent of crime in the region. Of the 31,799 property crimes reported in the first half of 2016, 34 percent were burglaries and vehicle thefts.
Officials with the regional planning agency said many factors can affect the local crime rate, such as the effects of public safety realignment and those of an initiative that reduced certain drug possession felonies to misdemeanors.
Cal Fire is at the scene of a wildfire burning off State Route 94 near Church Road in the Campo Indian Reservation.
A small plane crashed Saturday evening near the El Capitan Reservoir, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department confirmed.
Backers of an initiative that would allow San Diego State University to buy the SDCCU Stadium site in Mission Valley for campus expansion are scheduled to begin seeking petition signatures Saturday.
Friends and relatives of a couple whose bodies were found in Joshua Tree National Park say they believe the two got lost while hiking in the sprawling desert park and struggled in the searing heat with little food or water before they died in a "sympathetic murder-suicide."
Sunshine and higher temperatures are making the return to San Diego County Saturday after intermittent drizzle across the region on Friday.
President Donald Trump is portraying the Islamic State group's ouster from its Syrian stronghold as a milestone in the U.S. fight against terrorism and a step toward a political transition and lasting peace in Syria.
The San Diego Police Department announced Saturday that officers will step up pedestrian safety enforcement operations.
The San Diego Gulls allowed power-play and shorthanded goals in the first period and an empty-net goal in the third in a 4-2 loss to the Stockton Heat Friday night at Stockton.
Authorities asked the public Friday for help in identifying and tracking down a pair of thieves who have carried out a two-week series of bank robberies this month in the San Diego area.