California Crime Down 15 Percent in First Half of 1999

Wednesday, November 17, 1999
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

(San Francisco) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today reported that preliminary figures show the number of crimes in the most populous cities and counties in California dropped by 15.3 percent during the first half of 1999 when compared to the same period in 1998.

The preliminary report, "Crime In Selected Jurisdictions, January through June 1999," compares crime counts for six major offense categories during the first six months of 1998 and 1999 for 76 jurisdictions with populations of 100,000 or more. These jurisdictions represent about 65 percent of the state's population. Within these jurisdictions, crimes tracked by the California Crime Index dropped 15.3 percent, with all categories showing declines:

* Homicides decreased 6.0 percent;
* Forcible Rapes decreased 3.0 percent;
* Robberies decreased 12.8 percent;
* Aggravated Assaults decreased 5.1 percent;
* Burglaries decreased 21.9 percent; and
* Motor Vehicle Theft decreased 16.5 percent.

"California's falling crime rates are good news for our citizens and a credit to the hard work of law enforcement," said Lockyer. "It means that fewer people will be victims of crime and that the state is an even better place to live, work and raise a family."

Crime rates have fallen steadily for most of this decade and these preliminary figures indicate that trend will continue through 1999. Lockyer cited several factors that have contributed to the decrease in crime rates. California's tough sentencing laws enacted in this decade have removed a large number of repeat criminal offenders from our streets. An array of innovative crime prevention techniques including successful community oriented policing programs have lead to increased involvement by citizens and law enforcement in their communities. Improvements in technology essential to crime fighting and analysis of evidence have helped to prevent crimes and ensure that those responsible are caught and convicted. And, the booming economy and record low unemployment have also contributed to the reduction in crime.

"In order to sustain this important trend into the next century we must remain vigilant. Economic booms have proven to be cyclical and a new generation of young people is about to become part of that troublesome crime-prone demographic as early as next year," said Lockyer. "We must continue to build on our current successes to ensure that crime rates do not increase in less favorable conditions. That means improving crime prevention programs, taking more meaningful steps to help troubled kids avoid a life of crime, and improving crime-fighting technology to send the clear message to criminals – ‘You will be caught!'"

The preliminary report is available on the Attorney General's web site at http://caag.state.ca.us/cjsc

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