As violent crime in Chula Vista is on the decline, property crime is spiraling upward, according to the latest figures released by the FBI as part of its Preliminary Annual Crime Statistics for 2012.
The statistics are reported by law enforcement agencies in cities with a population of more than 100,000 to include Carlsbad, Chula Vista, El Cajon, Escondido, San Diego and Oceanside.
Statistics are compiled from January to December 2012.
Chula Vista and El Cajon were the only two law enforcement agencies out of the six reporting agencies in San Diego County to report decreases in violent crime.
The city of Chula Vista, with a population of 249,830, reported that in 2012 there were a total of 581 reported violent crimes, compared to 670 reported violent crimes in 2011.
The biggest drop came with aggravated assaults which saw a decrease of 21.16 percent.
Last year, 84 fewer aggravated assaults were reported than in 2011, when 397 aggravated assaults were reported.
Lt. Lon Turner of the Chula Vista Police Department said there are several factors for the violent crime decrease.
He said one factor is the Chula Vista Police Department has a taskforce that’s out in the community targeting repeat offenders, drug users and gang members.
Another reason, Turner said, is due to the increased number of police officers patrolling the city.
“When you have more cops, you have more reported crime,” Turner said.
Turner said there isn’t one true explanation as to why violent crime has decreased.
“I can’t specifically explain the drop,” he said. “I can tell you these things are cyclical. That drop is good news. I’m certainly not complaining about it and we would like to see further reductions.”
He also said the existance of unreported crime is always a possibility when there is a decrease.
Robbery dropped in 2012 compared to 2011 from 397 to 313.
In 2012, 33 forcible rapes were reported and in 2011 there were 34.
The only increase in violent crime was in murder, which increased by two from 6 to 8 reported murders from 2011 to 2012.
The Preliminary Annual Crime Report specifies a violent crime statistic as the sum of all offenses listed under murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
While violent crime in Chula Vista has decreased, the property crime category has increased.
Turner said property crime is cyclical too.
Usually young juveniles, when not in school who are engaged in bad behavior, Turner said, perpetrate property crime.
Turner said drug abusers are also known to steal property in order to convert that property into cash to buy their drugs.
The economy also has something to do with the rise in reported property crime, Turner said.
“We saw a rise in value of recycled metals,” Turner said. When we saw that, we saw a lot more metal theft because it was more lucrative to steal standing items that in the past weren’t of such value.”
In 2011 there was a total of 29,709 reported property crimes. 2012 saw an increase of 6.7 percent of reported property crime for a total of 31,700 incidents.
Larceny theft saw the biggest spike with 19,188, an increase from 2011 of 1,578.
There were 62 more burglaries last year with 5,902 as opposed to the 5,840 in 2011.
The report is preliminary because it allows a grace period for agencies to make changes to the numbers. Turner said the Chula Vista Police Department has no intention of revising its numbers.
Turner said a reason why numbers are revised is because an incident can be classified as an assault when the report comes out and later be a homicide if an individual dies during the grace period.