San Diego County's property crime rate last year was the lowest it has been in 39 years while hate crimes fell to their second lowest total in a decade.
The findings were published Wednesday in an annual crime report compiled by the San Diego Association of Governments. Overall, countywide crime decreased about 1 percent between 2017 and 2018.
The violent crime rate held steady at 3.4 crimes per 1000 people — the same as 2017 — but homicides and rapes both increased. There were 87 homicides across San Diego County in 2018 — seven more than in 2017. Rapes increased for the second year in a row, up to about three a day, according to the report.
While the region's property crime rate reached historic lows at 16.93 crimes per 1,000 people, police agencies still reported more than $182 million in goods was stolen last year, or about $500,000-worth of property a day. Police recover about one in three of those dollars, usually in the form of vehicles.
The report also noted that, according to victimization surveys, property crimes are vastly under-reported. More modern forms of theft — like identity theft — aren't included in property crime statistics.
National numbers from 2018 weren't available for comparison purposes, but in 2017, San Diego logged the lowest violent crime rate and the second lowest property crime rate of the country's 10 largest cities.
Other notable findings from the report included a 20 percent drop in hate crimes. In 2018, 76 hate crimes were reported across the county, down from 95 reported the year before. Most hate crimes — 56 percent — were motivated by race, followed by sexual orientation and religion.
Most racially motivated hate crimes were anti-black while hate crimes with religious motivations often targeted Jewish people. The report also found that while verbal slurs were the most common type of offense associated with hate crimes motivated by race and sexual orientation, none of the events motivated by religion involved slurs. Instead, graffiti was the most common offense in those incidents.
Before a gunman opened fire on a Poway synagogue last month, killing one person and injuring three others, investigators believe the same suspect in that case — identified as John T. Earnest — set fire to a mosque in Escondido. He is also suspected of spray-painting a hateful message on the mosque's driveway. Those incidents are expected to be included in the region's 2019 statistics.
The report also acknowledged a notable increase in violence committed against senior citizens. Last year, senior citizens were victimized in 927 violent crimes, an increase of 11 percent from the previous year and 48 percent from five years ago.
The crimes included 13 homicides, 21 rapes, 240 robberies and 632 aggravated assaults.
"With the proportion of this population expected to continue to increase, this will be an important trend to keep an eye on," SANDAG officials wrote.
The agency also tallied a number of crimes not routinely tracked by the FBI, including domestic violence. Most jurisdictions saw increases in domestic violence incidents last year, resulting in a countywide increase of 1 percent between 2017 and 2018.
Arson cases also increased in the region by about 5 percent.
Like in years past, police leaders credited the low overall crime rate in part to strong relationships with community members and data-driven policing.
Many departments have used statistics to better identify crime patterns and trends.
"It's about putting our resources at the right place and the right time," said San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore in a statement. "It's a game-changer for our deputies to connect the dots and stop the crime before it happens."
The jurisdictions overseen by the Sheriff's Department saw decreases in violent and property crime rates, according to SANDAG's report.
The report also analyzed how many cases were solved or cleared by local police departments. Violent crimes were solved more frequently than property crimes. Most homicides — 92 percent — were cleared, followed by aggravated assaults at 56 percent. Only 23 percent of rapes were solved.
Property crimes didn't fare as well. Only 14 percent of burglaries and 11 percent of larcenies were cleared.