According to the preliminary numbers from the SFPD, San Francisco looks to have had the exact same number of homicides in 2022 as in 2021 — a total of 55 — as of the end of the calendar year.
It's bizarre how cities can have these patterns, when there are so many factors that contribute to an area's homicide rate. But after hitting a 56-year low in homicides in 2019, a year in which 41 people were killed in the city, San Francisco's numbers have climbed since the pandemic began — though not as dramatically as they have in nearby Oakland.
SF saw 48 homicides within the city borders in 2020, a 17% jump from the previous year but about on par with the year before that. And that number climbed another 14.5% in 2021 to 55. As of December 25, two days after the shocking apparent double-murder of two children in Hunters Point — possibly by their own mother — the SFPD crime data dashboard shows a tally of 55 total homicides, or just over one per week in 2022.
Oakland, meanwhile, tallied 120 homicides in 2022 — a drop from the 15-year high the city hit in 2021, when the count was 134.
The perception among the general public in San Francisco is that crime is up across the board, that the city is in a state of lawless chaos, and this was one of the key factors motivating voters to oust District Attorney Chesa Boudin in a recall election last June. But the data has tended to tell a more nuanced story.
There's no question that San Francisco saw an uptick in burglaries the last two years, but that has dissipated a bit. In 2020, the city saw a 53% jump in burglaries — something that pundits and the police attributed to the drop in tourism, which left thieves focusing on breaking in to SF homes and businesses instead of tourist vehicles. The city saw 7,588 reported burglary incidents in the first year of the pandemic, with a similarly high number in 2021, when there were over 7,200.
In 2022, reported burglaries are back down to just above pre-pandemic levels, to 5,752 — a 20% drop from the previous year.
Larceny theft — a category in which car break-ins fall, along with shoplifting and bicycle thefts — was up 10% this past year over 2021, with a total of 34,529 total incidents.
But violent crime, including rape, robbery, assault, and homicide, was about on par with the previous year, with slight upticks recorded in a couple categories. Just as the homicide number is strangely the same as last year, the number of reported robberies (2,332) was oddly close to the 2021 number (2,257). Reported assaults were up in 2022 by 8%, and the number of reported sexual assaults was higher by 9 total incidents, or 4%.
Motor vehicle thefts were up by 3%.
While it's hard to infer too much from these numbers, they certainly reflect a significant amount of both petty and violent crime that continue to plague the city. And these numbers don't reflect the rate of arrests or convictions associated with any of these crimes.
One ongoing issue appears to be how the police, either because of staffing shortages or other issues, respond to crimes when they are reported. As ABC 7 reported in August, via an SFPD consultant's report, the department's response times for Priority B calls — which indicate a crime has just occurred — is about seven minutes, a delay that Chief Bill Scott called "unacceptable." Priority C calls, in which there is no immediate danger or the crime has long since occurred, see average response rates of 27 minutes, which the consultant said was abnormally slow and among the slowest in the nation.
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