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San Luis Obispo sees an uptick in crime, but decreases in several categories

Posted at 11:27 PM, May 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-09 18:08:37-04

The City of San Luis Obispo saw a rise in crime in 2018, according to a new police report.

The report notes a two percent increase in crime overall with a 1.5 percent hike in property crime and an eight percent jump in violent crime.

Despite that, San Luis Obispo remains a safe town, Captain Jeff Smith says, but that doesn’t mean you can let your guard down.

“I think it’s a safe city but I also encourage our residents to be aware of their surroundings,” Smith said in an interview on Wednesday.

The San Luis Obispo Police Department presented the statistics to City Council, explaining why there was an increase in some crimes, while also highlighting a number of successes both the department and city have made over 2018.

The numbers show 187 violent crimes occurred in 2018, representing an eight percent hike, but it is important to put that in context.

The difference between a robbery and a theft can be taking an item by force, as Smith points out, grabbing something out of someone’s hand. That’s deemed a robbery. A theft or burglary is property taken without force. So how the crime is filed can skew the data.

In the crimes section, SLO saw a total of 33 robberies, compared 904 total property crimes in 2018. A slight uptick in the robberies creates a higher percentage jump in that crime.

Of the property crimes, Smith says “most of our residential burglaries are occurring in unlocked homes.”

SLO PD also saw increases in the number of reported sexual assaults, 41% more.

RISE SLO Organization Executive Director Jennifer Adams says this number is a positive sign of change.

“The community is now open and being verbal about those experiences,” she said. “It allows victims to feel more secure in coming forward with their report. What we gather from that it is an increase in reporting, not an increase in the incidents.”

While the police department has struggled with filling vacancies, it has advanced several programs with the Community Action Team partnering with a counselor to help the transient population’s interactions with law enforcement.

“In the six months he’s been working our CAT team, he’s contacted over 200 individuals,” Smith said. “Of those individuals, he’s had to continued followup with 40. And really exciting, we’ve been able to get 25 behavior help and 22 placement.”

The city did see a number of positive decreases including a 10 percent decrease in DUIs and a three percent decrease in noise complaints, an all-time low in party related noise complaints since tracking began in 1998.

SLO PD is also on track to add crime reporting on its website.

Also, if you have a surveillance camera, you can register it with the department. Police do not have access to the camera, but can contact you if a crime does occur in your area.

If you need to report or speak to someone about a sexual assault, please call RISE’s 24-hour hotline. That number is 855-886-RISE (7473).