San Diego Police officers. Courtesy U.S. Department of Transportation

The rate of violent crime in the San Diego metropolitan region fell 6 percent to 3.31 per 1,000 residents, the lowest level in 35 years, SANDAG reported Wednesday.

“These regional statistics show San Diego County has never been a safer place to live than it is today,” said Dr. Cynthia Burke, criminal justice research director for SANDAG. “In 2014, we saw one-year declines in five of the seven major crimes and 35-year lows in robbery, burglary, motor vehicle theft and larceny.

The annual report, Thirty-five Years of Crime in the San Diego Region: 1980 through 2014, found 10,583 violent crimes reported to law enforcement agencies last year, the lowest level in a steady decline dating back to the early 1990s. Violent crime includes homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, which is the most common at two thirds of all violent crimes.

SANDAG chart show long-term decline in San Diego County violent crime rate.

Although overall crime was down, homicides increased from 70 in 2013 to 74 in 2014. Despite the uptick, the homicide rate was the third lowest over the past 35 years. In instances where motive could be determined, most homicides fell into three primary categories: argument, domestic violence, and gang-related activity.

Robberies were down significantly in 2014 — 11 percent from 2013. Bank robberies increased by 1 percent from the previous year, but all other location types decreased between 7 and 20 percent.

Property crime also reached a 35-year low, dipping 17 percent in 2014 from the previous year. A total of 59,049 property crimes were reported locally in 2014. The value of property stolen on an average day in the region was estimated to be $415,324. Notably, recovery rates of stolen property were up slightly from 18 percent in 2013 to 20 percent in 2014, reflecting $30.61 million in recovered property.

One notable finding concerned hate crimes. Compared to one and five years earlier, the number of hate crime offenses declined by 20 and 39 percent, respectively, SANDAG reported.

Burke said new law-enforcement techniques may be one of the reasons for the long-term decline in crime.

“While it is impossible to say with absolute certainty what factors are most responsible for these declines, it appears that investigative and technological advances have been especially key in enabling law enforcement to arrest prolific offenders and better share information among justice stakeholders,” she said.

The San Diego Association of Governments is the San Diego region’s primary public planning, transportation, and research agency representing the metropolitan region’s 18 cities and the county government.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.