Numbers released this week by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, combined with data provided by individual city police departments, reveal there was a 9.8 percent drop in serious crimes from 2009 to 2010.
Looking at the most heinous of violent and property crimes—homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny (over $400), car theft, and arson—Santa Barbara County counted 8,218 offenses in 2009 compared to 7,418 in 2010.
Violent crime dropped by 8.5 percent (1,998 incidences to 1,829), and property crime went down by 10.1 percent (6,220 to 5,589). Those statistics, however, don’t include numbers from Lompoc as a police spokesperson there failed to provide the requested information by deadline. And this year’s decline, while noteworthy, is not much different from the typical rise and fall of crime rates in recent years.
Law enforcement officials could offer little explanation for the dip, noting that the data helps most with figuring out where to deploy resources. “Crime statistics can be an effective tool for identifying trouble spots and trends that need to be addressed,” said Sheriff Bill Brown. “This is especially important as we search for ways to patrol the streets and keep offenders in jail in the midst of an unprecedented financial crisis which is leading to our fourth and most challenging year of budget cuts.”
Santa Barbara police spokesperson Lt. Paul McCaffrey—the city itself saw a 10.1 percent drop in serious crime—said that a small segment of the population is typically responsible for the majority of crime.