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Crime in California, 2016

Last summer, we reported that the annual Crime in California report showed that crime in the formerly golden state was up across the board.  This year's report, which is 2016 data due to the reporting lag, is more mixed but still not good news, as noted in today's News Scan.

Violent crime rates* rose across the board, 4.1% percent overall.  See Table 2 on page 11 of the PDF file.  The 2015-2016 interval is the first time in recent years that we have had a one-year change number with a consistent definition of rape (see footnote 1), and that figure is up a worrisome 6.4%.

Property crime rates have bounced around since 2011, the last year that was mostly before the major California sentencing changes.  Last year the overall property crime rate was up 6.6% percent from the year before, and this year it is down 2.9% from last year.  Overall, property crime rates have been pretty flat since 2011, with a -1.9% change overall.  National property crime rates have dropped steadily over the 2011-2015 period.  We should have national 2016 numbers in a couple of months.
There is a curious variation within property crime rates.  Auto theft has risen substantially, now 14.7% above the 2011 rate.  This was obvious out of the gate and is unique to California.  See posts from 2013 and 2014.  Arson is up 3.1% over the period and general theft is close to flat at +1.8%.  The curious thing is the burglary rate, which has plunged 22% from 2011 to 2016.  That is a big enough drop to drag the overall property crime change a tad below zero, -1.9%, even though all the other rate changes are positive.  There is no apparent reason why burglary should be down so dramatically while all other crime rates are either up substantially or changed less than 1%/year in either direction.

Whatever the reason, it does not seem to be unique to California.  Property crimes are down generally in the nation as a whole since 2011, but burglary is dropping much faster than other property crimes.

Overall, the pattern continues as noted in this post last March.  Violent crime is up in California but not in the country as a whole.  For property crime overall, the rest of the country has enjoyed a drop while California has not.

Since 2011, California has gone farther, faster down the soft-on-crime road than the country as a whole, and our crime statistics are worse than those for the country as a whole.  We are supposed to believe this is a coincidence.  I have yet to see a good reason to think so.

* I use crime rates, number of crimes per 100,000 population, whenever possible rather than the raw number of crimes known to the police.  Population growth and shifts can make the raw numbers misleading.

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