Violent crime in California increased 3.2 percent last year, says a state Justice Department report quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle. The preliminary report showed increases of 4.4 percent in homicides, 5.2 percent in robberies, and 2.6 percent in aggravated assaults. Rapes fell 2.5 percent. The report compared 2005 data with 2004 data provided by 81 police and sheriff’s departments that serve populations greater than 100,000.
“Even though the increases are slight, they do cause concern with our office,” said Robin Schwanke of the Justice Department. The state also experienced a 2 percent increase in property crime, which includes burglary, vehicle thefts and larceny thefts. The California attorney general’s office cited a proliferation of street gangs and methamphetamine laboratories as primary factors in the rise of crimes. There are 300,000 known gang members in the state. Gang membership grew by 50,000, or 20 percent, between 2000 and 2004. The state is also known as the country’s methamphetamine capital, producing about 80 percent of the national supply, Schwanke said. “As with other drugs, there’s a direct connection between methamphetamine use and crime,” she said.