Homicide, robbery, and aggravated assault are not words often spoken in the same sentence as San Luis Obispo. Yet all are on the rise according to the city's most recent crime report.
From 2020 to 2021 the number of homicides doubled from one to two, robberies increased by 18%, and aggravated assault by 19%. Overall violent crime increased by 10%.
Property crime is also on the rise. From 2020 to 2021 residential burglary increased by 30% and incidents of stolen vehicles increased by 49%. Overall, the city of San Luis Obispo experienced a 14% increase in property crime.
However, San Luis Obispo is far from the only city experiencing an increase in crime. Since the beginning of the pandemic, many cities in California have been dealing with the same problems.
The San Luis Obispo Police Department attributes this sharp uptick in crime to the drastic reduction the city experienced during 2020 due to the pandemic and reduced enforcement options available to officers due to legislative changes, jail booking policies, and bail reform.
"During COVID and the first part of 2021 our officers were not doing as much proactive work in order to keep officer safe and still working so that they can respond to emergency calls for service," said Brian Amoroso, San Luis Obispo Police Captain.
Most residents KSBY spoke to say they still feel safe in town.
"Well, I say it's very quiet. Try L.A.," said Joann Smith, San Luis Obispo Resident
Visitors agree as well.
"To me it's very safe and seemingly unhurried and I love it here," said Mike Gorman & Spencer Rigier, out-of-state visitors.
San Luis Obispo is a city perceived by many as extremely safe, so much so that some have let their guard down, leading to crimes of opportunity.
"I haven't really witnessed any crimes except my car was broken into...well it was unlocked," said Allen Dailey, San Luis Obispo resident.
From 2019 to 2021 there was a 135% increase in reported stolen vehicles, SLO PD says this problem was impacted by COVID-19, the shortage of vehicles, and vehicle price and supplies.
San Luis Obispo Police Captian Brian Amoroso said that because it is hard to keep these thieves behind bars, they end up back on the street doing the same thing over and over again.
"Our ability to book and incarcerate people that commit even low-level felonies like motor vehicle theft have been severely diminished during the COVID time frame," said Amoroso.
However, t's not just motor vehicles with which residents are having trouble. It seems any set of wheels is at risk in San Luis Obispo.
"They stole two times my bicycle and I call the cops and they did not find my bicycle," said Manuel Rodriguez, a San Luis Obispo resident.
"I locked it up in the lobby at the Anderson Hotel on Saturday night and somebody cut the lock on mine and the one next to it," said Kurt Weir, San Luis Obispo resident.
The report also showed an increase in downtown calls for service in 2021 but SLO PD said that's expected as many people returned to the downtown area as pandemic restrictions were lifted.