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Most crime down in January with major exception: homicides

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SF Examiner file photo. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
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Violent crime and property crime were down in January despite a spike in homicides, including two separate killings on the first day of the year, according to recent San Francisco police statistics.

Six people were killed in violence in the first month of 2017, compared to one in the first month of 2016, though nearly all other crimes were down.

“We had a really bad month in January,” Chief William Scott said at the Police Commission meeting Wednesday night, referring to the recent killings.

Crime stats

The department does not release neighborhood-based stats and, therefore, their monthly crime numbers include crimes from across The City’s 10 police districts. Still, the numbers give an indication of crime trends over time.

Rapes, for instance, were down 20 percent year to date, and robberies declined, too. In 2016, there were 266 robberies in January; this year there were 241.

Aggravated assaults were slightly up in 2017, with 229 reported this January compared to 223 in 2016.

Human trafficking cases were also on the downward trend. Last January, there were 10 reported cases compared to zero this January, though Scott cautioned that such crimes are underreported. San Francisco and the Bay Area are centers for human trafficking, which can include sex trafficking and indentured servitude.

Overall, property crime dropped by 9 percent year to date for January. That should be good news for a city beset by a spike in car break-ins, cellphone thefts and other similar incidents. Such crimes have been the focus of increased policing efforts and even prompted a proposal to create neighborhood crime fighting teams focusing on these quality-of-life crimes.

Burglaries declined 11 percent in that same time frame, going from 464 in January 2016 to 414 the first month of this year. However, the citywide decline is little comfort in the Sunset District, which has been plagued by a recent rash of burglaries.

Auto thefts dropped by 14 percent year to date. In 2016, at of the end of January there had been 465 auto thefts, and in January this year there were 414.

Even what people call “personal thefts” have been on the decline, with a drop for this January of 9 percent. In January 2016, there were 3,367 compared to 3,103 this January.

Homicides

The major outlier in The City crime trends for January — police release statistics a month later — are homicides.

In all, there were six homicides in January, which occurred primarily in the southeastern neighborhoods of San Francisco.

Despite this spike in killings, The City’s overall homicide number has hovered around 50 a year since 2009. Before that decline, there were roughly 100 a year.

The first victim was Ernesto Rosales, 21, who was killed by gunfire in the Mission District on Jan. 1. Michell Smith, 25, died after being shot in the Bayview that same day.

Gabriel Ramirez, 61, was killed several days later on Jan. 5 in the Tenderloin; Joshua Lightfoot, 18, was shot to death in the Oceanview area on Jan. 20; Marco Diaz Perez, 58, died in a shooting in the Outer Mission on Jan. 29; and Justin Willis, 29, was killed after being shot in the Bayview also Jan. 29.

So far this year, there have been a total of 10 homicides. By the start of March 2016, just three people had been killed.

Only one person has been arrested this year in connection with a homicide.

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