Crime Increases in 2015, With Biggest Increase in Unincorporated Areas

Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

Overall Crime:

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has released preliminary crime statistics for calendar year 2015, indicating an overall increase of 7.4% in all reported FBI Part I crimes

Violent Crime increased by 6.6% in the Sheriff’s areas of Riverside County (both unincorporated areas and cities), along with 7.4% increase in overall property crime in those same areas.  The FBI typically publishes final crime data for 2015 later this year.

Although homicides were down sharply by nearly 26% for 2015, there was a 7.4% increase in the number of robberies and for aggravated assaults reported to the Sheriff.  The overall FBI violent crime numbers (homicide, rape, robbery & aggravated assaults) increased by 6.6% across all of the Sheriff’s areas.  Reported rapes increased by 2.4% over the previous calendar year.  The violent crime numbers were the highest reported since 2012.

Property crimes (burglaries, auto thefts & felony thefts) in the Sheriff’s areas of responsibility (county and cities) within Riverside County increased by 7.4%, although burglaries were sharply reduced by over 20% in 2015.

Auto thefts increased by over 20% in 2015, contrasted with the previous year and were the highest number reported since 2007.

Contract Cities Only:

Within just the Sheriff contract law enforcement cities combined, violent increased 2.4%, property crimes increased 5.7%, with FBI Part I Crimes increasing 5.5%.  The Sheriff’s contract policing services provides each of our 17 community partners with a flexible menu of services and each city is able to control its police staffing levels along with their own unique focus for their respective community.  The Sheriff’s local commanders serve as city police chiefs for each city manager and are just as responsive as any other city department head.  This responsiveness encourages considerable initiative and creativity in dealing with local crime challenges in each of those partner cities.

Unincorporated Areas Only:

Within just the unincorporated areas of Riverside County, violent crime increased 18.3% from 2014 to 2015, and Property crimes increased by 14.2%, and all FBI Part I Crime was up in the unincorporated areas by 14.6% in 2015, the highest since 2012.  In the unincorporated areas of Riverside County, the overall increase in reported Part 1 crimes was impacted the most by aggravated assault, auto theft, and larceny-theft.

Patrol staffing has been held without any increases by County direction and funding at 1.04/1000 population since June 2014, placing on hold the previous County policy under the buildup of patrol deputy staffing in the unincorporated areas up to 1.2 sworn/1000 population over the several years. In contrast, the Sheriff’s contract city partners each staff their cities in accordance with their own desires.

The Sheriff’s Department serves as the contract policing agency partner with 17 of Riverside County’s 28 cities and also serves the unincorporated areas of Riverside County for criminal investigations.  Altogether, the Sheriff is responsible for policing nearly 1.4 million residents of the County’s population of 2.3 million. Annually Sheriff’s Department dispatchers receive over 1.6 million phone calls from the public and dispatch nearly 900,000 calls for service (CFS) by Sheriff’s staff, with nearly 1/3 being in-progress calls for service. Riverside County is the 4th most populous of California’s 58 counties, and the 10th most populous county with the nation.

Some notes:

There are a number of factors that may be attributable to increases in Riverside County crime.  The rise in aggravated assaults, may well be attributed to the increase in assaults related to Domestic Violence.  Incidents related to spousal assaults were up markedly.  Overall, almost half of all reported aggravated assaults in unincorporated Riverside County involved domestic or spousal violence.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has a long history of collaboration with all responsive agencies when it comes to the application of domestic violence resources.  Our investigative bureaus across the county have designated Domestic Violence Threat Management (DVTM) trained investigators focusing on reviewing of domestic violence reports to identify training or follow-up needs, identifying subjects likely to commit repeated acts of domestic violence, participating in multi-agency collaborative countywide threat management teams, handling high-profile or threat management domestic violence incidents, and mentoring deputies to improve initial and follow-up domestic violence investigations.  All of this is focused on supporting the victim, stopping the behavior, and breaking the cycle of violence.

The Department also works closely with the Family Justice Courts, the District Attorney and their Victim Witness advocates, the SAFE team, and support organizations such as ‘Shelter from the Storm’ and the ‘Riverside Area Rape Crisis Center’ to assist with restraining orders, group sessions, safety plans, and individual victim needs such as food and gas vouchers, along with a number of other Crime Victim Assistance programs.  The Department also recently received a three year grant from the “Office of Violence against Women” to continue to improve the criminal justice response to sexual, domestic, dating, and stalking violence against women.

Auto theft is an area where Riverside County has also seen increases.  The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) notes that auto theft is on the rise all across the United States, yet there is no identifiable reason.  Washington, California, Nevada, and New Mexico are among the top five states for auto theft.  Riverside County mirrors the national trend, in that the Honda Accord and Civic, Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado trucks, and the Toyota Camry are among the vehicles most at risk for theft.

An additional area of note is the category of larceny-theft.  Within this category, thefts from vehicles and shoplifting had significant increases.  A likely reason for the increase in thefts from vehicles is related to identity thefts.  We attribute this, because wallets, purses, and mail items were frequently reported as being taken from targeted vehicles.  In the aftermath of the implementation of Prop 47 we have seen a sharp increase in shoplifting.  Shoplifting incidents, previously charged as felonious theft or commercial burglary, which could result in prison sentences, have been reduced to misdemeanors and as such the consequence of incarceration is remote.  It could be pointed out that due to Prop 47, the consequence of criminal behavior is more heavily being borne by the crime victim.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s jail leadership has been on the cutting-edge in working closely with the District Attorney’s Office, the Probation Department, and other jail systems statewide in alternative sentencing programs and in developing assessment tools and training programs to address local inmate recidivism pursuant to AB 109 Realignment in 2011.  The Sheriff and local police chiefs across Riverside County maintain close coordination and teamwork in using regional teams, task forces, community partnerships, and multi-disciplinary approaches in confronting our crime problems and the impacts of AB 109 Realignment.

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