I have two reasons for writing this article. First, Del Mar has always had a strong value of looking out for our neighbors. That is why we have such organizations as Del Mar Community Connections, Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), and Neighborhood Watch. Also, one of my first responsibilities as a public official is to look out for the safety of our residents.
Given our values (and my responsibilities), I am very concerned about crime in Del Mar.
I have been watching the crime statistics for the San Diego Region put out by the Criminal Justice Research Division of SANDAG for the last 8 years. The latest report spans a time frame of 1980 to 2015 and was published in April 2016. The data clearly shows three important things are happening:
a. Crime in Del Mar is unique and different from other areas of San Diego.
b. The intensity of crime is too high for such a small city.
c. Del Mar’s crime is likely to go up, not down.
Let me take each of these in order.
First, crime in Del Mar is unique. Most people think of crime as homicide, rape and robbery. Del Mar has very few of these type of crimes, averaging 0 homicides, 2 rapes, and 2.3 robberies per year for the last 9 years. But what crime we do have is made up of assaults, burglaries and theft, averaging 12 assaults, 39 burglaries, and 124 thefts per year for the last 9 years. In 2015, Del Mar had 8 assaults, 47 burglaries, and 122 thefts.
Burglaries, both residential and commercial, total 14.4 percent of the crime throughout the San Diego Region. The same burglaries are 25.1 percent of the crime in Del Mar. We experience an average of 3.9 burglaries per month.
While Del Mar has few violent crimes, we lead the San Diego Region in non-violent crime per 1,000 in population.
Del Mar ranks 11th out of 18 cities in San Diego County for violent crime; with 2.36 violent crimes per 1,000 residents in 2015. Del Mar ranks 1st out of 18 cities in San Diego County for non-violent crime; with 41.53 non-violent crimes per 1,000 residents in 2015. The next highest number is La Mesa with 29.59 non-violent crimes in 2015. Del Mar’s numbers are twice the region’s average of 19.42 property crimes per 1,000 residents per year.
These numbers can be explained, in part, by the number of visitors that come to the Fairgrounds and beaches throughout the year. But it also indicates that our residents and businesses are at increased odds of being victims of non-violent crime compared to residents in other regions of San Diego County.
Residential burglary has ranged from a low of 11 (2010) to a high of 33 (2012). We are at 30 in 2015. Non-residential burglary has ranged from a low of 11 (2014) to a high of 21 (2021). We are at 17 in 2015. Theft in Del Mar has been at a low of 100 (2011) to a high of 144 (2012). We are at 122 in 2015.
We experienced 30 residential burglaries in 2015. We experienced 17 non-residential burglaries. That is a total of 47. That is over 2 residential burglaries a month, and over one commercial burglary per month. The numbers are bad for such a small town.
And there are two things working to increase these numbers over time. First, the number of visitors attending events at the Fairgrounds will only increase as the population increases. The San Diego Region is adding 30,000 new residents per year.
But also, we have not been able to drive these numbers down over time. We spend $2 million per year or 18 percent of our City’s General Fund on Sheriff services. We have not solved Del Mar’s non-violent crime problem. My real concern is that Del Mar is becoming an easy place for people to commit burglaries and theft.
I will have some thoughts on ways we can drive down our crime rates in future articles to the Del Mar Times. This is also a time when the City Council and the community will be debating options for improving law enforcement in Del Mar.
Del Mar Mayor
– I have the privilege of serving as Del Mar’s Mayor for one year.
– These comments are my own perspective and do not represent the consensus of the Council.
Note: All data was taken from the April 2016 Thirty-Six Years of Crime in the San Diego Region:1980 Through 2015; Criminal Justice Research Division, SANDAG; Cynthia Burke Ph.D., Division Director.