Violent crimes drop nearly 10 percent

Overall, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department reported a slight decline in violent crimes during 2017. For the year, Part 1 crimes, which includes homicides, rapes, robberies, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, larceny-theft and arson, fell 2.2 percent in the county.

But violent crime, limited to murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, fell 8.8 percent last year. Property crimes also contracted slightly (1.6 percent) in 2017.

While the reduction in crimes was less in the unincorporated areas of Riverside County, the trends were the same as the whole county.

Incidents of the most violent crimes — homicide and rape — both declined in 2017. Within the whole county, there were 41 homicides, 19 fewer than the year before. Within the unincorporated areas, homicides were 43 percent less than a year ago, from 28 in 2016 to 16 in 2017.

Forcible rapes were down from 56 to 48, a 14-percent reduction, in the unincorporated areas of Riverside County. The cities had a slight increase of three from 95 in 2016 to 98 last year.

Fewer robberies and aggravated assaults occurred in 2017 than reported in 2016. The latter fell 10 percent in the whole county, but only 5 percent in the unincorporated areas.

According to the Sheriff Department’s release, “a majority of this can be attributed to domestic violence incidents.”

The Sheriff’s Department emphasized that it has a long and strong history of working with other agencies to investigate and address domestic violence.

Riverside County has “trained investigators focusing on reviewing 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.”

While there were fewer property crimes in the county last year, in the unincorporated neighborhoods, property crime increased 0.7 percent, as a result of 55 more reported incidents for a total of 7,728.

Motor-vehicle theft actually rose 6.3 percent in the unincorporated areas, while falling nearly 9 percent in the whole county. Nearly a quarter of vehicle thefts were reported in the unincorporated areas.

“Our experts in the field of vehicle theft attribute this increase in the unincorporated areas to theft of construction equipment and recreational vehicles. In addition, all-terrain vehicles and trailers have also been a target of theft,” the Sheriff’s Department surmised.

They also recommended that owners make greater use of identifying markers on recreational vehicles and trailers, as well as using an alarm or anti-theft device.

However, larceny thefts went in just the opposite direction. They declined in the unincorporated areas by 1.1 percent and increased countywide by 0.4 percent.