San Mateo County crime falls from 2005 peak

After a 2005 spike in criminal activity, San Mateo County experienced a downturn in nearly all criminal categories during 2006, according to data released by the state Attorney General’s Office.

Both the total number of violent crimes — homicides, rape, robberies and aggravated assaults — and property crimes, such as burglaries and car thefts, decreased from the criminally turbulent 2005.

The year 2005 featured the highest number of reported violent crimes — 2,447 — in the last decade and 9,744 incidents of property crime, the highest since 1997, which saw 9,968.

A year later the single factor behind an 11.3 percent decrease in the rate of violent crimes was a drop in aggravated assaults from 1,547 reports to 1,302 in 2006, according to the California Attorney General’s Office. Homicides also dropped from 30 to 22 in the county during the same span.

A nearly 12 percent reduction in the rate of burglaries per 100,000 residents in the county fueled a drop in total reported property crimes from 9,744 incidents in 2005 to 9,504. Residents and commercial businesses countywide in 2006 suffered 2,969 incidents of burglary, down from the 3,335 in 2005.

Redwood City was a poster child for the reduction in crime across the county, featuring a decrease in all but one of the criminal categories from 2005 to 2006, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Notable was the drop from 388 to 300 incidents of violent crime in Redwood City. A major portion of the reduction came from the 62 fewer incidents of aggravated assault the city had in 2006.

The number of homicides did increase, though, from three to six, but Redwood City police Capt. Chris Cesena said the three-person homicide in April 2006 at the Headquarters bar was the source behind that spike.

All reports of violent crimes in San Mateo decreased from a total of 403 in 2005 to 325 the following year, according to the data. The only reported crime that increased was motor vehicle theft in San Mateo; 294 cars were reported stolen in 2006, 74 more than in the previous year.

Daly City, the Peninsula’s largest city, continued to perform well as compared with its smaller Peninsula neighbors with 289 reports of violent crime during 2006, just three more than the 286 reported in 2005. Yet the city did experience increases in larceny thefts, most likely at its shopping centers Serramonte and Westlake. In 2005, police responded to 1,439 reports of larceny theft; in 2006, shoplifters escaped with goods 1,970 times.

Notable numbers

» From 2005 to 2006, the rate of violent crimes in the county decreased by 11.3 percent thanks in part to a 16.8 percent reduction in the rate of aggravated assaults in the county.

» The reduction in the rate of property crimes was aided by an 11.9 percent decrease in the number of burglaries throughout the county in 2006.

– Source: California Attorney General’s Office

dsmith@examiner.com

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