Homicides and auto thefts spiked from 2019 to 2021 in areas policed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said recently during a virtual town hall meeting.
Villanueva presented year-end statistics for 2021 but said it was too early to draw any conclusions about trends in the first 12 days of 2022.
“Because we’re only two weeks into the first year, statistically it’s going to be all over the map,” the sheriff said.
Department data for the year ending Dec. 31, 2021 showed “a two-year jump—this is comparing 2019 to 2021—that was a 94.24-percent increase in homicides, a huge number,” Villanueva said. “A 64.88-percent increase in grand theft auto. That’s the bad news.”
In 2019, there were 145 homicides recorded in the county, while there were 199 in 2020, according to the sheriff’s department’s website. While Villanueva did not specify the number of 2021 homicides recorded, his math would put the total at around 281.
There was also a 14-percent increase in aggravated assaults, though rapes and robberies dropped 11.7 percent and 24.1 percent, respectively, according to the sheriff. As a result, overall violent crimes were up roughly 1 perdent, he said.
“A lot of these have to do definitely with the pandemic and just the changing societal patterns of behavior, and who’s at home and who’s not,” Villanueva said.
The 2019 statistics reflect a pre-pandemic world, while 2021 included the winter surge in cases that prompted restrictions on businesses and gatherings as well as a more open public health stance going into the summer.
“We had a big drop in burglaries, 19.39 percent because, duh, everybody’s home,” Villanueva said, pointing to a drop in larceny and theft for the same reason.
Still, property crimes were up slightly, with a 4.35-percent increase over the two years.