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Santa Barbara County crime ticks slightly up in 2020

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Generic
Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office's 2020 Crime Report

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Santa Barbara County Sheriff's deputies responded to more crime across Santa Barbara County in 2020 than in 2019.

A new report from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office showed that 444 more crimes were committed across the county last year than in the previous year. That totals to 2,914 crimes committed in 2020 compared to the 2,470 in 2019.

There were 2,828.8 crimes committed in Santa Barbara County over a 10-year average. And 2020 averaged just less than 0.25 crimes per day.

SBSO said that thefts in the county hit a five-year high with 2,010 total in 2020. 2016 holds the previous high at 1,955 thefts. And motor vehicle thefts also hit a five-year high of 156. 2018 was the previous high at 103.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Raquel Zick said, "This past year, a lot of people have lost their jobs. A lot of people are struggling with unemployment or underemployment. That could be a contributing factor."

While Part 1 violent crime was up across the county, there were no homicides in the sheriff's office's jurisdiction.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley said no homicides is not out of the ordinary.

"It was not a surprise that we saw zero homicides in the Sheriff's jurisdiction. We've had many years where we've had zero homicides. And of course we have had many homicides since then," said Dudley.

Santa Barbara Sheriff's deputies serve as police for Buellton, Carpinteria, Goleta, Solvang and the unincorporated areas of the county. And of those areas, Carpinteria saw the biggest increase in crime between 2020 and 2019.

Bob Wittenberg just moved to Carpinteria from Philadelphia. He said the slight uptick in crime is nothing compared to what he left.

"I think a lot of it is associated with the pandemic and the fact that people have been quarantined," said Wittenberg. "They have lost their income and their patience level has dropped down below what's normal for them."

The biggest concern for authorities now: what wasn't reported.

"I don't think we yet know the extent of the in-home crimes," said Dudley. "We really won't know until people go back to school. But domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, the increase in that terrifies me. And I'm hoping we can get to those victims as soon as possible."

To report a domestic violence crime, Dudley said you can call her office's 24/7 line at 805-568-2400.

Santa Barbara - South County / Santa Maria - Lompoc - North County
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Scott Sheahen

Scott Sheahen is a reporter for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Scott, click here.


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