With rising homicide numbers, more gangs and too few detectives, the increasing crime rate in the Southern California desert underscores a trend often overshadowed by the good news about crime. A Los Angeles Times analysis of FBI statistics shows that crime rates rose in some outlying areas at the same time they declined in many of Southern California’s largest cities, led by a 36% drop in the rate of violent crime in Los Angeles. Property crimes dropped 53% in Los Angeles but climbed 19% in Riverside County between 2000 and 2005. Vehicle theft increased dramatically in several cities, including Moreno Valley, 62%, and San Bernardino, 55%.
Even with the increases, these outlying cities recorded far less violent crime overall than Los Angeles. With 807 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, Los Angeles had one of the state’s highest rates in 2005. But rates in several outlying cities, including Riverside, Ontario and San Bernardino, surpassed Los Angeles in property crimes, The Times analysis found. The trend has become an increasing topic of debate and concern among law enforcement agencies, which are studying patterns to see if it is spreading.