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Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office releases 2020 crime statistics

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office released their 2020 crime statistics on Friday showing an overall 18% increase in serious crimes throughout the county when compared with 2019 statistics.

The sheriff's office collects information about crimes occurring within its communities and submits the information to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports system. The system breaks these reports down into two separate categories: Part 1 crimes, which are more serious in nature, and Part 2 crimes, which include lesser criminal offenses and some juvenile status offenses. Part 1 crimes can be further broken down into violent crime and property crime. Violent crimes include murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Property crimes include theft-related offenses that do not involve a threat or use of force against a victim such as vehicle theft.

The sheriff's office said Part 1 violent crime was up by 7% overall in 2020, with the most significant jumps being a 71% increase in rape and 32% increase in robbery. Part 1 property crime was 20% higher than the previous year; this included a 73% increase in motor vehicle theft, 27% increase in theft and 138% increase in arson.

Despite these numbers, Part 2 crime was noted as having decreased by 15% overall. The sheriff's office said detailed analysis showed almost all categories of Part 2 crimes had either gone down or remained close to the same as in 2019. Two exceptions to these trends were DUI violations, which increased by 17%, and disorderly conduct which increased by 28%. Other categories which saw significant decreases included simple assault which saw an 18% drop, public drunkenness which dropped by 32% and sex offenses which dropped by 28%.

Juvenile offenses, including curfew violations and runaways, dropped by 39% in 2020.

“2020 brought significant challenges and changes to the criminal justice system in Santa Barbara County, including a significantly reduced jail population due to the adoption of emergency zero-dollar bail practices at the state and local level," said Sheriff Bill Brown. "We are concerned that those changes may have had a negative impact on crime rates, and, in-turn, resulted in an increased fear of crime in our communities. We are closely scrutinizing this crime data and will continue to seek ways to maintain public safety by targeting certain criminals, but also by holding offenders accountable through alternatives to jail.  These include working with our criminal justice partners to enhance offender supervision, provide additional mental health and substance abuse-related services, and strengthen education-based recidivism reduction efforts for those who are in custody.”

For more information, visit the sheriff's office website here.

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Jessica Brest

Jessica Brest is a digital journalist and assignment editor for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Jessica, click here.

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