Calif. AGO’s Report Shows Jump in Auto Theft

While violent crimes showed a decrease, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced that preliminary statistics show property crimes rose 2.8 percent in the state’s most populous cities and counties in 2003.

“Protecting the personal safety of Californians is an essential function of government. The decrease in violent crime is evidence of the fine job being performed by members of police, sheriffs’ and district attorneys’ offices throughout the state,” Lockyer said. “In contrast, an increase in property crimes is something we expect to see during difficult economic times. As state and local lawmakers evaluate the tough decisions necessary to balance their budgets, I strongly encourage them to preserve law enforcement funding that is critical to protecting the public safety of all Californians.”

Spurred by a 6.7 percent jump in motor vehicle theft, overall property crimes inched up slightly when compared to 2002. Burglary increased 1.0 percent and larceny-theft of $400 or more increased 0.3 percent. Arson fell 3.8 percent.

Jurisdictions reporting the largest increases in motor vehicle theft included Bakersfield, 42.6 percent; Modesto, 38.9 percent; Pomona, 34.8 percent; Salinas, 52.8 percent; Lancaster, 35.6 percent and San Joaquin County, 54.6 percent.

The preliminary figures examine the number of major crimes reported in 79 cities and counties with populations of 100,000 or more. These 79 jurisdictions account for approximately 65 percent of all crimes reported in the state.

The report reflects two changes from crime reports issued in the past. First, the use of the California Crime Index has been temporarily suspended until a new national crime index is established by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

Second, the “larceny-theft over $400” category is now included in the “property crime” category to give a more representative depiction of crime in California and to better reflect the FBI’s definition of property crimes. These changes also are planned for the more comprehensive Crime in California report which will reflect figures from all jurisdictions and will be released later this year.