Property crime in San Luis Obispo increased drastically in the past two years. Meanwhile, violent crime has declined since a 19-year high in 2014.
In 2015, San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLOPD) reported the most property crime offenses of any law enforcement agency in the county. At 1,844 offenses for the year, the city of San Luis Obispo accounted for 28.3 percent of the county’s property crime. San Luis Obispo accounted for 28.1 percent of the county’s violent crime at 240 offenses in 2015.
Property and violent crime in SLO 2015
During the same period, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department reported the most cases of violent crime at 324 and second most cases of property crime at 1,347 in the county. Cal Poly reported 163 property crime and three violent crime offenses.
Since then, overall crime increased by 11 percent, according to SLOPD Chief Deanna Cantrell. This is down from the 21 percent increase in crime between 2014 and 2015.
Cantrell presented these and other key crime statistics to the San Luis Obispo City Council in March, outlining the changes in property and violent crime rates over the past year. These statistics are included in the annual Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from law enforcement agencies across the United States and are available online.
According to SLOPD, there were 2,076 known cases of property crime in 2016. This is a 12.6 percent increase from 2015 and a 44.27 percent increase from 2014. Under FBI standards, property crime includes burglary (commercial and residential), larceny theft (theft from a vehicle, shoplifting and other petty theft) and motor vehicle theft.
SLO city crime property crime 2012-2016
This translates to approximately 4,406.1 property crimes per 100,000 people or 1 property crime every four hours and 13 minutes. According to the UCR, San Luis Obispo’s 2016 property crime rate is the highest since 2004 when the crime rate was 4,410.4 property crimes per 100,000 people.
The UCR also reported that the total number of property crimes in San Luis Obispo in 2016 was higher than in any year since 1985 when the FBI began reporting data for individual city law enforcement agencies. The next highest year was 1998 at 2,064 total property crimes.
Property crime in SLO
In a news release posted by SLOPD on March 17, Cantrell attributed the significant increase in property crime to the passage of Proposition 47. Cantrell stated that the referendum that was passed in 2014 reduced the deterrents for petty theft.
“The increase in overall crime locally and statewide can be partially attributed to Proposition 47, which reduced certain drug possession felonies and some thefts under $950 from felonies to misdemeanors,” Cantrell said. “Misdemeanor probation carries little or no supervision … Rehabilitation efforts without consequences for lack of cooperation fail and translate directly to more crime, particularly property crime.”
Thefts from vehicles increased by 133.7 percent from 288 offenses in 2014 to 673 offenses in 2016. Cantrell attributed this increase to poor security practices among San Luis Obispo residents.
“The increase in thefts from cars – up 52 percent over  – reflects, in part, a cultural issue in the city with people failing to lock their doors and remove items of value due to a false sense of security,” Cantrell said.
According to SLOPD, there were 179 known cases of violent crime — as defined by the FBI UCR — and 26 cases of arson in 2016. This is a 8.7 percent decrease since 2015 and a 25.1 percent decrease since 2014.
The UCR includes murder, non-negligent manslaughter, robbery, aggravated assault and rape within the violent
SLO city violent crime 2012-2016
Prior to 2014, the definition of rape used by SLOPD in its UCR reporting was restricted to penetrative intercourse against a woman’s will and attempts. After 2014, the definition expanded to include any non-consensual vaginal or anal penetration with any body part or object or oral intercourse and attempts. Both definitions exclude statutory rape where no force was used.
In 2016, the approximate violent crime rate in San Luis Obispo was 379.9 offenses per 100,000 people. This was the lowest point since 2013 when the violent crime rate was 349.3 offenses per 100,000 people according to the UCR.
Although there were marginal increases in robberies and rapes, the number of aggravated assaults dropped from 146 in 2015 to 118 in 2016. Up until 2015, the number of aggravated assaults had steadily increased since 2010.
During her presentation to the city council, Cantrell alluded to public awareness efforts and new strategies as a possible cause for the decrease in violent crime and the slowing of the increase of overall crime.
According to the UCR, there have been no known murders in San Luis Obispo since 2012. The largest number of murder cases in a single year since reporting began was in 2007 and 1989 at three cases.