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Larceny crimes down roughly 25% during stay-at-home orders in San Diego County

While larceny is down in the county, aggravated assaults remained relatively flat from 2019.
Credit: KFMB

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Larceny crimes, such as car break-ins, have decreased roughly 25% in San Diego County in the past two months, amid stay-at-home orders brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report released today.

The report by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) offers a snapshot of how crimes in four categories have been affected: aggravated assault, simple assault, larceny and domestic violence.

The agency looked at police reports in the county from March to April, then compared them to crimes reported during those two months in 2019.

During those periods of comparison, larceny crimes dropped from an average 101 reports per day in March 2019 to 78 per day in March this year. Larceny reports also dropped from 100 per day in April 2019 to 74 per day in April this year.

Simple assault reports also decreased during that span, dropping from 53 and 57 reported per day in 2019 to 49 and 46 reported per day in March and April this year.

Daily domestic violence reports remained the same in March 2019 to March this year, but dropped from 45 in April last year to 43 in April this year.

Aggravated assault was the only category that saw a slight increase in one of the months, rising from 16 daily reports in April 2019 to 17 daily reports in April this year. Daily aggravated assault reports dropped from 19 in March 2019 to 16 in March this year.

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The report noted that the numbers may not be exact because investigations can change and the region's law enforcement agencies may not yet have filed all crime reports for the period reviewed.

"We wanted to have a discussion to maybe get a little bit ahead because there has been a lot of speculation about what is going to happen to crime," said Cynthia Burke, SANDAG's research and program management director.

Although larceny is the most common property crime reported in the region, the drop was expected because with more people at home and businesses closed there is less opportunity for theft, Burke said.

Larceny includes thefts not done with force and violence or by fraud. Examples include breaking into a car, pickpocketing or stealing a bicycle or purse.

Burke plans to present the findings to SANDAG's Public Safety Committee, which is composed of local elected officials and heads of public safety agencies, this afternoon.

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She said her office is keeping an eye on several factors that could be influenced by the coronavirus pandemic, including mental health issues and substance abuse along with increased opportunities for financial schemes.

Organizations that aid in crime prevention among youths or individuals who were just released from jail could also see long-term effects since many cities in the area are facing budget shortfalls, Burke said.