Violent crime in California declined in 2003 while property crime increased, according to a statewide report issued Tuesday by the state attorney general's office.
Violent crime, including homicide, rape and robbery, fell 1.6% statewide, from 207,988 incidents in 2002 to 204,591 last year, according to the report.
But property crime, including burglary, car theft and larceny, rose 3.8% statewide, from 667,592 occurrences in 2002 to 693,137, contributing to a 6.5% increase in such crimes over five years.
Motor vehicle thefts recorded the biggest jump among property crimes, with nearly 20,000 more cars being stolen in 2003 than the previous year.
"We do tend to see an increase in property crimes when we have a bad economy," said Hallye Jordan, a spokeswoman for state Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer's office. "But it's hard to pin it on just one thing."
Lockyer credited local law enforcement agencies with keeping the violent crime rate at a stable level, even as the state population has increased.
"As state and local governments struggle with limited resources, our peace officers continue to do a herculean job in protecting our communities," Lockyer said in a prepared statement. "The combination of tight budgets, a sour national economy and increasing populations will require law enforcement to do more with less."
The report, titled "Crime in California 2003: Advance Release," was compiled from information provided by police and sheriff's officials as well as county prosecutors and courts. A more comprehensive report will be issued in August, with crime rates listed by city.
In Southern California, Los Angeles County reported a nearly 5% drop in violent crime in 2003, compared with 2002. Aggravated assaults declined by nearly 3,000; homicides and forcible rapes each dropped by about 1,000. Property crime increased by 1.2%.
Property crime rose 10.1% in San Bernardino County and 9.4% in Ventura County during that time. Violent crime rose by less than 2% in each county.
Violent crime in Orange County increased 0.2% and property crime rose 0.1%, compared with 2002. Violent crime plunged 16.4% in Santa Barbara County, the Southland's largest drop in that category during the period.