Sheriff’s deputies investigate a car theft in Vista on Aug. 4. Courtesy OnScene.TV

Violent crime went up by 1 percent countywide in the first half of 2016, while property crime increased by 4 percent, according to the mid-year crime report released Wednesday by the San Diego Association of Governments.

SANDAG said there were 49 homicides in the first half, an increase of 14 percent compared to the same period in 2015, and a 4 percent increase in robberies to 1,396.

The biggest increases in property crimes were in auto thefts and burglaries. Motor vehicle thefts increased 16 percent to 5,551 in the first half of 2016, while burglaries rose 6 percent to 5,291.

While the crime rate was up, SANDAG noted that it was still 30 percent lower than 10 years ago. The overall rate is 23.06 crimes per 1,000 residents of the county.

“Given the confounding factors that can affect crime rates, it is not possible at this point to draw any definitive conclusions as to what exactly is causing these slight increases. But despite the uptick, the current crime rate in our region is still far lower than what it was 10 years ago,” said Dr. Cynthia Burke, director of SANDAG’s Criminal Justice Research Division, said. “Other West Coast cities also are seeing increases in crime, and we are watching the data closely.”

Among other highlights of the 2016 mid-year crime report:

  • A total of 5,409 violent crimes were reported to local law enforcement agencies in the region between January and June 2016, an average of 30 per day, about one more per day than the first half of 2015.
  • There were 558 rapes reported in the first half of 2016 using a new, broader definition that includes male victims, compared to 511 in the first half of 2015.
  • A total of 31,799 property crimes were reported in the first half of 2016. Sixty-six percent were larcenies, 17 percent burglaries, and 17 percent motor vehicle thefts. Property crimes make up the vast majority of crimes (85%) reported in the region.

Since 1980 SANDAG has been compiling and analyzing crime statistics from the 18 cities and unincorporated parts of the county.

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Chris Jennewein

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