Crime down in San Diego County but violent crime, fueled by robbery increase, hits 10-year high

Police are seen outside Mike’s Market in the Mountain View neighborhood.
Police are seen outside Mike’s Market in the Mountain View neighborhood where a shooting left one person dead on Feb. 15, 2022.
(Kristian Carreon/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Overall, crime fell across the county by three percent, with a violent crime increase fueled by a double-digit rise in robberies, SANDAG report finds


Crime fell by about 3 percent overall in San Diego County from 2021 to 2022, but the violent crime rate — fueled by a jump in robberies — hit a 10-year high, regional figures show.

Property crimes like burglary, larceny and vehicle theft continued to decrease last year, leaving the region with its second-lowest property crime rate in 43 years.

The findings were part of a Tuesday, May 9 report from the San Diego Association of Governments, known as SANDAG, and closely mirror crime trends out of San Diego, the county’s biggest city.

The annual assessment presented countywide crime figures over the 43-year period from 1980 through 2022 and covers a variety of offenses, including seven major crimes tracked by the FBI nationwide: murder, aggravated assault, rape, robbery, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.

The association also tracks hate crimes, which saw a 6 percent increase in 2022. More than 60 percent of reported crimes were motivated by race, ethnicity or national origin, the report found, and of those, 45 percent of the bias was described as being anti-Black. Another 20 percent of hate crimes were motivated by someone’s sexual orientation.

County crime rates per 1,000 population have fluctuated since the association began compiling statistics in 1980, but after peaking in the early 1990s, rates followed a decades-long decline. The region’s violent crime rate has held relatively steady over the last two decades, and despite last year’s increases, the county continues to have one of the lowest violent crime rates among the country’s largest cities, according to SANDAG officials.

“San Diego is still one of the safest regions in the country,” said Octavio Rodriguez, the organization’s principal criminal justice researcher.

Although violent crime increased by about 2 percent last year when compared with 2021, the numbers of homicides and rapes decreased.

There were 107 homicides in 2022, 11 fewer than the year before. More than a third of homicides, 37 percent, took place in the victim’s residence while another 35 percent happened on a street or sidewalk, according to the report. Most homicides, 60 percent, were committed with a firearm.

Rapes decreased by about 12 percent, from 1,076 in 2021 to 942 in 2022. Domestic violence also decreased about 4 percent.

A 10 percent increase in robberies fueled most of the rise in violent crime, the report shows. In 2022, nearly half of robberies occurred in commercial establishments and another 36 percent happened on streets or in other public places.

The report did not offer any theories on what may have led to the increase. Last month, Cindy Burke, the senior director of data science at 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.

Among property crimes, burglary and motor vehicle thefts both increased, but a decrease in larceny fueled an overall drop of about 5 percent in 2022.

Larcenies were the only property crime to decrease from 2021 to 2022, dropping 8 percent. Burglaries and motor vehicle thefts saw slight increases of 3 percent and 2 percent respectively.

While property crimes fell overall, the value of the property that was stolen went up. About $304 million worth of property was stolen across San Diego County in 2022, up from about $244 million the year before. The value of stolen vehicles accounted for about half of last year’s stolen property.

Both the region’s 2022 violent crime rate of 3.84 per 1,000 residents and the property rate of 14.86 per 1,000 residents were below national averages provided by the FBI in 2020, the most recent year available.

The data was collected from police agencies for the county’s 18 cities as well as unincorporated areas. Agencies use the association’s analysis to track public safety trends and gauge the effectiveness of their crime prevention programs and enforcement strategies, SANDAG officials said.