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Crime rates rise in region in 2015, per report

REGION — San Diego County’s crime rate rose in 2015 fueled by a rise in property crime, according to a regional crime report released Thursday by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).

Still, law enforcement officials said, the region’s crime rate is near historic lows.

Despite this year’s uptick, the crime rate was still the second lowest since 1980,” said Cynthia Burke, director of SANDAG’s Criminal Justice Research Division. “And the region still has one of lowest crime rates in the nation.”

Regionally, 74,383 violent and property crimes were reported to the region’s law enforcement agencies in 2015, almost 204 per day. Of these, 85 percent were property crimes.

An 11 percent increase in larcenies, (burglary, larceny and motor-vehicle theft) fueled the increase in property thefts. The most common type of larceny — representing about one in three — was theft of an item, such as a purse or a laptop, from a motor vehicle, according to the report.

Violent crime rose by 2 percent from 2014 to 2015, with 10,938 such crimes reported during the calendar year. Officials attribute some of the rise in violent crime to a change in how rape is defined under the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

That definition was changed to include male victims, sodomy and penetration with any body part of objects and no longer requires force. As a result, some crimes that would not have previously been reported as more serious violent crimes are now captured in the current statistics, according to the report.

The 84 homicides throughout the region were 10 more than in 2014, according to the report.

Encinitas saw one of the biggest increases in violent crime rate per 1,000 people, which increased from 1.7 to 2.05 from 2014 to 2015, a 20 percent increase. Only Lemon Grove, which saw a 37 percent jump, had a higher crime-rate increase.

Oceanside and Escondido saw 7 percent and 3 percent rises in their violent crime rates, respectively, and Vista’s increased by less than one percent.

San Marcos, however, reported a 14 percent decrease in its violent crime rate.

Conversely, all of the cities in The Coast News coverage area saw increases in property crime, and most saw double-digit percentage increases. Solana Beach’s property crime rate rose 54 percent, the highest in any jurisdiction.