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Why Crime is Rising in California: Comprehensive Guide & Safety Tips

Why Crime is Rising in California: Comprehensive Guide & Safety Tips

Criminal activities in California have risen in the recent past, and the data collected indicate a high rise in the number of criminals in the state. According to the data obtained, in 2022 the violent crime rate in California rose by 13%. This is 5% below the pre-COVID period of 2019, according to the data. More specifically, the proportion of aggravated assaults has risen to 67% of all the violent crimes reported, while property crimes have increased by 5.9% from the previous year. These statistics are concerning and indicate that residents need to be more aware of their surroundings and take better measures to protect themselves and others. 

One such measure is to hire professional security services that can offer extra protection and assurance during such turbulent years. It is important to know the reasons for the increase in crime and prevent it to protect individuals and society in general. In this blog, we will explore the factors that contribute to the high crime rates in California and provide tips on how to stay safe. 

After reading this article, you will be better informed about the crime rate in California and how you can protect yourself from being a victim.

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A. Economic Factors

Unemployment and Poverty

  • Unemployment: It is a fact that economic instability plays a very big role in the commission of crime. Unemployment became rampant in California during the COVID-19 pandemic. While recovery is still in progress the effects remain and contribute to higher rates of property crimes including robbery and theft. Unemployment is a leading cause of crime since people are willing to engage in unlawful activities to feed themselves. 
  • Poverty: Over one million Californians live in or near poverty with child poverty increasing from 9 percent in 2005 to 11 percent in 2010. It increased from 0% in 2021 to 13. Poverty makes people become involved in criminal activities especially when they lack other means of support. 
  • Homelessness Crisis and Its Effect on Criminal ActivityHomelessness: Rising rents and inadequate stock of low-cost housing have contributed to California’s high rates of homelessness. This leads to many homeless people engaging in petty criminal activities to survive hence raising property crime rates. 

B. Legislative Changes

Reclassification of Crimes 

Proposition 47 Overview:

  • Objective: Reduce prison populations by reclassifying certain non-violent felonies as misdemeanours.
  • Crimes Affected: Petty theft, drug possession shoplifting (under $950 in value).

Impact on Crime Rates:

  • Property Crimes Increase: After Proposition 47 passed in 2014 property crimes particularly larceny thefts rose by about 9%. For example, thefts from motor vehicles became more common as offenders faced reduced penalties.
  • Violent Crime: Despite fears violent crime did not significantly increase showing the reform primarily impacted property crimes.
Criticism and Support:
  • Critics: Argue that lower penalties encourage more minor thefts. For instance, shoplifting in cities like San Francisco surged, affecting businesses.
  • Proponents: Point to reduced incarceration rates and fewer lifelong consequences for minor offenders which may help reduce recidivism. Many individuals now have better opportunities for rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

Reduced Sentencing and Prison Population Reduction

Policies Implemented:

  • Alternatives to Incarceration: Community service probation and drug treatment programs offer offenders a chance to reform outside of prison.
  • Reduced Sentencing: Shorter sentences for non-violent crimes help decrease prison overcrowding and lower the financial burden on the state.
  • Prison Overcrowding: Reduced by lowering the number of inmates.
  • Financial Savings: Funds saved are redirected to rehabilitation programs improving public safety.

Public Safety Balance: Ensuring that reduced sentences do not compromise safety. Continuous monitoring of crime rates is essential to maintain this balance.

C. Social and Cultural Factors

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Crime Trends

Disruption and Stress: The COVID-19 pandemic brought significant disruptions to daily life increasing financial and emotional stress. This led to shifts in crime patterns. For example violent crimes such as homicides increased by 31% in California during the early pandemic period while aggravated assaults rose by 9%. However some crimes like robberies and rapes saw decreases as people stayed home and public spaces emptied (California Policy Lab).

  • Law Enforcement Adjustments: The pandemic also caused changes in policing strategies. Law enforcement agencies reduced arrests for minor offences to minimise virus exposure. This resulted in a 36% drop in property crime arrests and a 47% drop in drug crime arrests in early 2020 (Public Policy Institute of California). These shifts impacted overall crime statistics and patterns during the pandemic.

Drug Abuse and Its Consequences

  • Increase in Drug Use: The pandemic exacerbated issues related to drug abuse with many turning to substances as a coping mechanism for stress and isolation. This increase in drug use has been linked to higher rates of drug-related crimes including theft and violence. For instance cities like Los Angeles saw rises in crimes related to drug activities during the pandemic.
  • Impact on Communities: Drug abuse not only fuels crime but also strains community resources. Increased drug-related criminal activities demand more from law enforcement and healthcare systems diverting attention from other critical areas. Efforts to combat drug abuse and provide rehabilitation services are essential to reducing these crime rates.

3. Types of Crimes on the Rise

California has seen a variety of crime trends in recent years with certain types of crimes becoming more prevalent. Understanding these trends is crucial for both residents and policymakers.

Violent Crimes

  • Homicides: In 2022 California experienced a 6.1% decrease in homicides from the previous year down to 2206 incidents. However this still marks a significant increase compared to pre-pandemic levels. Gun violence remains a major factor with 71.2% of homicides involving firearms.
  • Aggravated Assaults: These assaults have risen by 4.6% reaching 128798 reported cases. This category includes severe crimes like attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

2. Robberies

  • Robberies jumped by 10.2% in 2022 amounting to 47669 cases. This increase is particularly concerning as it reverses previous downward trends and highlights ongoing public safety issues.

3. Sexual Assaults

  • The number of reported sexual assaults slightly increased by 0.6% to 14346 cases. While the increase is modest it underscores persistent challenges in addressing sexual violence effectively.

Property Crimes

1. Burglary Larceny and Auto Theft   

  • Burglary: After a period of decline burglaries saw an uptick in 2022 increasing by 5.8% from the previous year. This resurgence has been noted particularly in urban areas like Los Angeles.
  • Larceny: Larceny thefts which include non-violent thefts rose by 7.3%. While still below pre-pandemic levels this increase highlights ongoing economic challenges and their impact on crime.
  • Auto Theft: Auto thefts have been on a significant rise jumping by 19% in 2020 and continuing to increase in subsequent years. In 2022 auto thefts were up by 1.6% reflecting a persistent problem across major cities.

Drug-Related Crimes

  • Increase in Drug Use and Related Crimes: The pandemic saw a spike in drug use as people turned to substances to cope with stress and isolation. This increase has led to a rise in drug-related crimes including possession distribution and associated violence.
  • Impact on Communities: Drug abuse fuels other criminal activities straining community resources and law enforcement. Increased drug-related crimes divert attention from other critical issues and exacerbate public safety concerns.


  • Rise in Cybercrime: With more people working and shopping online cyber crimes have surged. This includes identity theft, online fraud and hacking incidents. Businesses and individuals are increasingly targeted leading to significant financial losses and privacy breaches.
  • Law Enforcement Response: Authorities are ramping up efforts to combat cybercrime but the rapidly evolving nature of technology poses continuous challenges.

Hate Crimes

  • Increase in Hate Crimes: Hate crimes have seen a troubling rise particularly those targeting racial and ethnic minorities. Incidents of anti-Asian violence and other racially motivated attacks have been reported more frequently reflecting broader social tensions.
  • Community Impact: These crimes have severe psychological and social impacts on communities increasing fear and division. Efforts to address hate crimes include stronger legal measures and community support programs.

Domestic Violence

  • Pandemic-Related Increase: The cases of domestic violence rose during the pandemic due to the effects of the lockdowns and economic difficulties at home. Cases of domestic abuse increased beyond the capacity of support services and law enforcement agencies.
  • Support Services: Measures to increase funding for victims and increase the severity of consequences for violations of protective orders are necessary to address this problem. 
Organized Retail Theft 
  • High-Profile Incidents: There is an increase in the incidences of retail theft where groups of people plan and execute theft in retail stores. These occurrences have a ripple effect on the business world and influence the perception of insecurity in the society. 
  • Law Enforcement Challenges: Combating ORT is a complex process that involves the cooperation of businesses, police, and legislators to design adequate prevention and control measures. 

4. Geographic Hotspots

Knowing where exactly the crime rate is high in California will assist the people to be more cautious in the areas and prevent the crimes from occurring. Below are some of the main areas of crime in the state with an undertone of the need to engage professional security services like Security Base Group.  

San Joaquin Valley 

  • Overview: The San Joaquin Valley region is ranked highest in the violent crime index in California with 641 violent crimes per 100000 people. This area has recorded a high rise in the rate of both violent and property crimes. 
    • Notable Trends: Some of the reasons that contribute to high crime rates in the region include; economic problems and high unemployment levels.

Protection Measures: People and companies can get a lot of advantages from hiring professional armed security services to minimize the threats and increase the level of protection. 

San Francisco Bay Area 

  • Overview: The highest property crime rates in the state are recorded in the Bay area with 3036 incidents per 100000 people. This includes high incidences of break and enter, theft and car theft. 
    • Notable Trends: The cost of living and the inequality of income distribution are high in this area, which leads to property crimes. The area has also witnessed an upsurge in the cases of retail theft by organised retail crime. 
  • Protection Measures: Preventing such common crimes requires organisations to invest in strong security measures such as CCTV and onsite security personnel within the premises. 

Los Angeles

  • Overview: Los Angeles has seen fluctuations in both violent and property crime rates. While homicides and aggravated assaults have decreased recently thefts and auto thefts remain high.
    • Notable Trends: Specific neighbourhoods like Rampart experience constant property crimes such as vehicle thefts and burglaries exacerbated by police staffing shortages.
  • Protection Measures: Enhancing community safety through professional security services can provide an added layer of protection especially in high-crime areas.

Southern Coast and Border Regions

  • Overview: Areas such as Imperial Orange San Diego and Ventura counties have the lowest violent crime rates at 318 per 100000 residents. However property crime remains a concern.
  • Notable Trends: These regions benefit from lower violent crime rates but still face challenges with property crimes like auto theft and burglary.

Protection Measures: Hiring security services can help maintain low crime rates and address property crime issues effectively.

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5. Protecting Yourself and Your Community

A. Personal Safety Measures 

Investing in Home Security Systems
  • Alarms: Installing a reliable alarm system can deter intruders. Alarms not only alert you to a break-in but also notify authorities ensuring a swift response.
  • Cameras: Surveillance cameras are essential for monitoring your property. Modern cameras come with features like motion detection night vision and remote access via smartphones providing peace of mind even when you’re away.
  • Locks: Upgrading to high-quality locks on doors and windows is a fundamental step in home security. Consider smart locks that offer keyless entry and can be controlled remotely.
Maintaining Situational Awareness and Personal Vigilance
  • Awareness: Stay alert to your surroundings especially in unfamiliar or high-risk areas. Avoid distractions like excessive phone use and always be aware of exits and escape routes.
  • Routine Changes: Vary your routines to make your patterns less predictable to potential criminals. This includes varying your routes home and changing your schedule occasionally.
  • Safety Practices: Carry personal safety devices such as pepper spray or a personal alarm. These can be crucial in deterring an attacker or drawing attention in an emergency.

B. Community Actions 

Importance of Neighborhood Watch Programs
  • Community Engagement: Neighbourhood watch programs foster a sense of community and collective responsibility. Regular meetings and communication channels keep residents informed and vigilant.
  • Reporting Suspicious Activity: Encouraging residents to report suspicious activities can prevent crimes before they occur. A proactive community is a safe community.
Local Advocacy for Better Policing and Community Resources
  • Advocacy: Engage with local government and law enforcement to advocate for increased police presence and better community resources. This can include more street lighting, regular patrols and community policing initiatives.
  • Resource Allocation: Push for resources to be allocated towards crime prevention programs and support services for at-risk individuals. These can address the root causes of crime such as unemployment and substance abuse.

C. Policy Recommendations 

Support for Rehabilitation Programs and Reducing Recidivism 
  • Rehabilitation Focus: Introduce policies that will ensure that offenders are reformative rather than just punitive. Rehabilitation can prevent people from reoffending and assist them in becoming productive members of society again.
  • Educational and Vocational Training: Offering education and vocational training to the prisoners ensures that they are well equipped to face life after prison hence minimizing the chances of them returning to prison. Education, vocational training, alcohol and drug dependency treatment, and psychological services are necessary. 
Measures to support economic needs to reduce the causes of crime 
  • Job Creation: Support employment generation especially in the areas that experience high unemployment. Employment helps in eradicating the aspect of economic hardships which are associated with criminal activities. 
  • Affordable Housing: Tackle the issue of homelessness by improving the availability of low-cost housing. Housing stability decreases the chances that people will resort to crime to meet their needs. 
  • Community Development: Promote community welfare activities that enhance the quality of life of the people by putting up structures like playgrounds, schools and beautifying the environment. The presence of people in a community reduces the incidences of crime. 

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At last 

High crime rates in California call for better security policies and measures to be put in place. Therefore, through the purchase of home security, performing community actions and demanding for proper policies, residents can improve their security. But professional security services offer the highest level of protection that cannot be compared to any other security services. Security Base Group provides professional security services to meet your requirements and provide you and your community with protection. 

Take action today: Security Base Group offers professional and efficient security services, so contact us today. Guard what you cherish and guarantee your community’s security with our specialized group. You can also visit our website or call us now to get more information. 

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