2013 data shows the city of San Francisco experienced the highest levels of criminal activity since 2008, when the number of crimes in the city was similar. The years in-between generally showed improvements in Bay area crime rates for a number of common crimes. Experiencing around 55,000 total crimes, for example, 2013 showed approximately 20% increase over the previous year.
While the populous region shows violent crime rates well above the national average, the crimes committed in 2013 were overwhelmingly property crimes, rather than homicides and sexual assaults. Among them, some of the most commonly reported crimes in the San Francisco area include robbery, theft and break-ins.
Theft – Crimes of opportunity push crime rates higher in cities like San Francisco. Thefts, for example, continue to rise in numbers as smartphones, tablets and consumer electronics present accessible targets with lucrative paydays for thieves profiling these items. In fact, enterprising criminals actually travel to the city specifically to steal these items.
Public transportation and other venues where large numbers of people congregate and use electronic devices furnish some of the most widely targeted locations for committing grab-and-run thefts of valuable personal electronic devices.
Car-Jacking – Another form of theft, targeting motor vehicles, is also widespread in the Bay area. Around 4000 vehicles are stolen annually, with a number of high-profile car-jacking cases emerging each year. 2014 has already seen its share of armed car-jacking attempts, which are crimes set apart from routine auto theft incidents by the use of force and fear to physically intimidate victims into surrendering their vehicles.
Assault – Assaults occur for a variety of reasons, often resulting from the commission of other crimes. Theft and break-ins, for example, lead to assault charges for thieves and burglars who assault their victims as they rob them. While murder rates are down significantly as compared to the number of killings occurring as recently as five years ago, the number of assaults taking place in the city have not shown similar reductions.
Robbery – Like car-jacking, robbery includes a component of fear and intimidation, wherein physical force or the threat of harm are used to take possessions from others. In San Francisco, large numbers of robberies – nearly 25% of all thefts occur in the single Southern Police Station District, where economic improvements have created attractive targets for criminals. Users are at their least attentive when fixated on tablets screens and smartphone keypads, which gives criminals the advantage of surprise as the wrestle away costly electronics. The targets are so clearly defined, in fact, that spikes in the number of robberies occur as new models are released. Many of the devices stolen in California are exported to Asian and South American countries, before they can be recovered.
Break-ins/Burglaries – Parting owners from their personal property is carried out on the streets, at places of business, and at homes across the State of California. While Los Angeles has shown recent dips in crime rates, regions like Oakland and San Jose have seen significant upticks in the number of crimes committed. San Francisco occupies the middle ground statistically, but the 2013 increase in burglaries and other crimes is cause for concern among residents and law enforcement personnel.
While 40,000 of the document 2013 crimes in San Francisco are property crimes, and murder rates are down significantly for the entire region, the overall climb in the number of crimes poses enforcement issues for California law agencies. A clear correlation has been drawn between the proliferation of costly smartphones and personal electronics and subsequent robberies, thefts and assaults resulting from thieves targeting these devices.