Murders and auto thefts have skyrocketed from 2019 to 2021 in areas protected by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Wednesday during a virtual meeting at City Hall.
Villanueva presented statistics for the end of 2021 but said it was too early to draw any conclusions about trends for the first 12 days of 2022.
“Because we’re only two weeks into our first year, statistically this will be all over the map,” the sheriff said.
The department’s data for the year ending December 31, 2021 showed “a two-year jump — that’s a comparison between 2019 and 2021 — that was a 94.24% increase in homicides, a huge amount,” Villanueva said. “An increase in the number of car thefts by 64.88%. It is bad news”.
According to the Sheriff’s Department website, there were 145 homicides in the county in 2019 and 199 in 2020. While Villanueva did not specify the number of reported homicides in 2021, he reckons the total is around 281.
There was also a 14% increase in aggravated assaults, the sheriff said, although rapes and robberies were down by 11.7% and 24.1%, respectively. As a result, the total number of violent crimes rose by about 1%, he said.
“A lot of it is definitely related to the pandemic and just changing social patterns and who is at home and who is not,” Villanueva said.
The 2019 statistics reflect a pre-pandemic world, while 2021 included a winter spike in cases that caused restrictions on businesses and gatherings, as well as a more open public health stance earlier in the summer.
“We had a big decrease in burglaries, 19.39%, because hell, everyone is at home,” Villanueva said, pointing to a decrease in theft and theft for the same reason.
However, property crimes rose slightly, up 4.35% in two years.
“So it was a mixture of good and bad news, and the bad part of the news is primarily murders and a component of violent crime,” he told listeners during a Facebook and Instagram Live broadcast at City Hall.
Villanueva said the data will be posted on the LASD website at lasd.org/transparency and on social media.
The annual report has historically included a breakdown of crimes by patrol, city, and specific crime types, as well as additional material on demographics and case closure rates.
LASD patrols all unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County and provides contracted law enforcement services in 42 of the county’s 88 cities, as well as the metro.