Crime Rates from 1980 to 2014
393 violent crimes and 2,459 property crimes reported per 100,000 residents (2014)
California law enforcement agencies report this data to the California Department of Justice (DOJ) as part of the Federal Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR). This data tracks eight crimes: homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault (together, "violent crimes"), burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft (together, "property crimes"), and arson. When more than one crime occurred during an incident, only the most serious crime is recorded with the exception of arson. These pages present an analysis of over 80 million violent and property crimes reported between 1960 and 2014 throughout the state, with an in-depth look at 1980 to 2014.
How have crime rates changed over time?
Although crime rates are difficult to predict, factors that drive trends include changes in sentencing laws and incarceration, demographic shifts (e.g. in age and race/ethnicity), economic conditions, dynamics of illegal drug markets, law enforcement personnel, and policing strategies. The influence of these factors on crime trends varies with types of crime.
After sharp increases between 1960 and 1980, California's violent and property crime rates steadily declined in the decades after 1980 and are now at historic lows. From 1960 to 1980, the state's violent crime rate quadrupled, peaking at 1,104 in 1992. Since then, the violent crime rate declined substantially and now stands at a 47-year low. California's property crime rate followed a similar trajectory, doubling between 1960 and 1980 where it reached a 50-year peak rate of 6,900 in 1980. In 2014, the property crime rate dropped to below the rates in the 1960s.
California Crime Rates per 100,000 Residents, 1960-2014
How has each of the violent offense crime rates changed over time?
Since 1980, California has seen an overall dramatic decrease in its violent crime rate, which includes homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. When comparing 1982 to 2014, rates for homicide decreased by 61%, rape 52%, robbery 66%, and aggravated assault 37%.
California's Violent Crime Rates per 100,000 Residents, 1982-2014
How have property crime rates changed over time?
California's property crime rate which includes burglary, motor vehicle theft, and larceny-theft, also declined dramatically between 1982 and 2014 for each offense. During this period, rates for burglary decreased by 74%, motor vehicle theft 41%, and larceny-theft 59%.
California's Property Crime Rate per 100,000 Residents, 1982-2014
How did California's violent crime rates compare to crime rates in other states and nationwide?
Note: The data used for national and cross-state comparison comes from the FBI's UCR website. The FBI urges caution when ranking across states and years due to varying factors affecting crimes in different way.
Overall, the violent crime rate has been in line with the national trend of increasing between 1960 and the early 1990s, then decreasing back to levels seen in the late 1960s. At the peak in 1992, California had a violent crime rate that was almost 50% higher than the national rate but that has since dropped to just 5% higher in 2014. When compared to the three other most populous states - Texas, Florida, and New York - all four states were at similar rates and followed the same general pattern.
National and California Violent Crime Rates per 100,000 Residents, 1960-2014
Violent Crime Rate Comparison per 100,000 Residents, 1965-2014
How did California's property crime rates compare to crime rates in other states and nationwide?
Property crime rates across the nation increased in the 1960s, hitting historic highs in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a decade before the height of violent crime rates. California's property crime rate exceeded the national rate from 1960 to 1995, but dropped below the national rate in 1996 and has since stayed below. From its peak year of 1980 to 2014, the property crime rate dropped 65%, compared to a 51% drop in the national rate. Again, Texas, Florida and New York had similar rates to California and followed the same general pattern.
National and California Property Crime Rates per 100,000 Residents, 1960-2014
Property Crime Rate Comparison per 100,000 Residents, 1965-2014
What were California's violent and property crime rankings in the United States?
In the early 1980s, California had among the highest crime rates in the country. Out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, it ranked 47th highest in violent crime rates and 46th highest in property crime rates. Since the 1990s, California has made improvements in both categories. In 2014, it ranked 34th in violent crimes and 22nd in property crimes.