Earlier this month, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office released the preliminary crime statistics for 2015. These data were from all independent and contract cities in the county, and its unincorporated areas.
Overall, reported crime increased throughout the county in 2015. However, specific trends and patterns were not identifiable because of the variation in changes among types of crime. Also, population size strongly influenced the number of crimes, which had substantial variation when compared on a per-capita basis.
For example, both the city of Banning and Moreno Valley reported 33 rapes in 2015. However, the frequency in Banning, whose population is about a fifth of Moreno Valley’s, was almost 11 rapes per 10,000 residents compared to 1.6 in Moreno Valley.
Overall, violent crime, including homicides, rose 6.6 percent in the areas covered by the Sheriff’s Department. The percent change for the city police departments ranged from a 4-percent decrease in Cathedral City to a 26-percent jump in Murrieta.
The Sheriff’s Department reported that violent crime increased 18 percent in the unincorporated areas of the county. In Canyon Lake and Eastvale, which contract with the Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement support, violent crime decreased 46 percent and 32 percent, respectively. At the other end, San Jacinto saw a 32-percent increase in reported violent crimes. Hemet, which has its own police force, reported a 30-percent increase in violent crimes.
Eleven homicides occurred in Hemet and 12 throughout the unincorporated areas.
Property crimes, which include residential burglary, commercial burglary, larceny or theft and vehicle theft, also grew in the past year. In the unincorporated portion of Riverside County, property crimes were up 14 percent, but only 7.4 percent in all areas within the sheriff’s responsibility. The incorporated cities saw property crimes decrease 9 percent in Beaumont, but up 2 percent in Hemet and 25 percent in Murrieta.
There were 742 burglaries in Hemet, which was 19 percent fewer than in 2014, and 369 burglaries in San Jacinto, which was 22 percent fewer than a year ago. The whole unincorporated areas of the county saw a 5-percent decrease.
However, larceny and vehicle thefts were up in Hemet and the unincorporated areas. These crimes include theft from vehicles and shoplifting. Public-safety officials believe the former are related to identity-theft crimes.
There were nearly 440 more vehicular thefts in 2015 than 2014, a 42-percent increase.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau notes that auto theft is on the rise all across the United States, yet there is no identifiable reason. 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, according to the sheriff’s press release.
Specific data were not available for the Idyllwild area, but Hemet Station Capt. Joe Borja stressed that in a community as small as Idyllwild, one or two individuals on a spree can create a sudden and abnormal spike in the crime statistics.
For example, overall crime rates were down a little in 2015 compared to 2013 and 2014, he said. “But burglaries were up from 2013 but about the same in 2014 and 2015,” Borja added. “Auto theft nearly doubled and that’s probably due to one or two individuals.”
But he stressed that crime is low on the Hill when one compares the absolute number of crimes to these other areas.
The sheriff’s press release also emphasized that the Board of Supervisors has limited patrol staffing in the unincorporated areas during the past two years.
“In contrast, the contract city partners [can] each staff their cities in accordance with their own desires,” which can influence responses and investigations, he added.
These data were the preliminary figures each jurisdiction reports within 10 days of the end of each month. However, the actual number of crimes might change for several reasons. For example, an investigation might find that the crime report was unfounded or it occurred in a different jurisdiction.
In the preliminary figures, Murrieta reported nine rapes and 308 burglaries. The city’s final figures were six rapes and 288 burglaries. So the actual data may be revised.