Drop in violent crimes, property offenses across California in 2010 

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Violent crimes and property offenses decreased across the state in 2010, according to the annual Crime in California report released by the state Department of Justice on Friday.

The report considered violent offenses -- homicides, forcible rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults -- and property crimes, including burglaries, motor vehicle thefts and larceny-theft exceeding $400. Changes in arson were also evaluated.

This is the fourth consecutive year that violent crime has dropped across the state, and violent crimes are at their lowest level since 1968, according to the state Office of the Attorney General.

The trend was shared across the Bay Area, with more counties seeing decreases in both overall categories, according to the report.

In San Francisco, arsons decreased by 20.7 percent, with 157 arson fires in 2010 versus 198 the year before. Crimes overall decreased, and the largest change was in motor vehicle theft, which was down by 20.5 percent.

In Alameda County, the largest change involved motor vehicle thefts, which decreased from 12,768 in 2009 to 9,448 in 2010, a decline of 26 percent. The homicide rate decreased slightly, with 8.3 homicides per 100,000 people in 2010, compared to a rate of 8.8 the year prior, a change of 5.7 percent.

Homicides were down significantly in neighboring Contra Costa County, which had 65 homicides in 2010 compared to 89 the previous year, a decrease of 27 percent. In terms of homicide rate, there were 6 homicides per 100,000 people in 2010.

Overall, violent crimes in Marin County showed a slight decrease -- 0.8 percent -- although robberies increased by 5.5 percent to 153 incidents in 2010. Aggravated assaults decreased from 337 to 316, down 6.2 percent. The number of homicides, 4, was unchanged from 2009.

Although property crimes in Napa County were down by 14.6 percent overall, violent crimes spiked, increasing by 12.2 percent overall. The change was attributed to a spate of aggravated assaults, with 549 assaults in 2010 versus 452 the year before.

Crimes were down overall in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma counties, with slight increases. In Solano County, crimes in both overall categories decreased, although the number of forcible rapes increased by 25 percent.

The Crime in California report, compiled by the California Department of Justice, is based on data provided by police and sheriff's departments in all 58 California counties.

The full report can be obtained from the Office of the Attorney General website at www.oag.ca.gov.

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