Half of all Americans (51%) believe their area has more crime than a year ago, the highest percentage in 25 years. California, America's most populous state, is no exception to this trend.

With over 39 million residents, California ranked 16th nationwide in violent crime. Its violent and property crime rates have increased by 6.7% and 3%, respectively, in recent years. 

But there is a catch: the state's crime rate is much lower than 30 years ago across all offenses. If you plan to stay in California, you better have the latest crime statistics.

Read on for more information! 

Editor's Choice

  • The San Joaquin Valley had the highest violent crime rate at 640 incidents per 100,000 residents
  • Stockton City topped the list as the most dangerous city in California.
  • Property crime rates in San Francisco County significantly increased by 16.9%.
  • The southern coast and border showed the lowest violent crime rate of 305 per 100,000 residents
  • Six California cities were among the 15 safest cities in the US. 
  • 82.29% of those who commit violent crimes are men
  • California's total statewide clearance rate for non-fatal violent crimes was 40%.
  • 75% of the identified homicide weapons were firearms.

How Many Crimes Are Committed Each Year in California?

The total number of reported crimes in California was 1,093,871 in 2021. Homicide, in particular, has shown an upward trend with 2,361 cases, up by over 150 deaths from 2020. 

California property crime also rose in 2021, with 921,098 total incidents. In 2022, 202,685 out of 14,268,528 registered vehicles were stolen. Based on registered vehicles, California ranks third in vehicle theft

In 2020, juvenile felony arrests in California were 11,332, up from 16,288 the previous year. California's arrests were still at a historic low of about 793,000, down from a peak of 2,000,000 in 1989.

The decline since 2006 is due to fewer misdemeanor, juvenile, and young adult arrests. However, this is just the beginning. Let's explore the state's crime statistics beyond the basics!

California Crime Statistics by County

Some California counties make headlines for violent crime, while others are the safest. However, as large populations lead to more criminal tendencies, relying only on crime volume can be misleading.

A more accurate way to measure crime in California is by using crime rates. It considers population and shows how a state city compares to others. Let's look at how the statistics differ by county in California:

1. Property crime rate increased by 7% in four California cities. 

(PPIC, PopulationU.com)

Property crime in four popular cities trended upward in 2021. It increased by 7%, from 3% in Los Angeles to 13% in Oakland. San Francisco and San Diego also saw upward changes in property crimes during that year. 

2. The San Joaquin Valley had the highest violent crime rate at 640 incidents per 100,000 residents. 


San Joaquin had 640 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, the highest in California. This was 37.34% higher than the statewide rate of 466 per 100,000 residents.

3. Fresno's violent crime increased by 24.1%.


Out of 58 counties, 37 trended upward in violent crimes for 2021. Fresno County showed the biggest jump at 24.1%. The statewide increase was only 6%.  

4. Stockton City topped the list as the most dangerous city in California.


The violent crime rate in the city, which has a population of 326,248, is 885.52 cases per 100,000 people. 68.85% of which were aggravated assaults. Property crimes were also the most reported in Stockton, at 2,084.61 per 100,000 residents. 

Here are the other cities with high rates of violent crime in California:




Violent Crime Rate

(per 100,000 residents) 














Santa Maria
















El Cajon

176, 829



San Diego







5. San Francisco County had the most significant increase of 16.9% in property crime rates. 


In 2021, the property crime rate spiked by at least 10% in 13 counties, but San Francisco County topped the list with 16.9%. 

6. Ventura had the largest property crime drop at 6.3%. 


Eight of the 15 largest counties in California saw a modest decrease in property crime. Ventura had the most significant decrease at 6.3%.

7. The southern coast and border showed the lowest violent crime rate of 305 per 100,000 residents. 

(PPIC, Neighborhood Scout) 

Imperial, Orange, San Diego, and Ventura counties went against the rising violent crime trend experienced in most of California.

In Imperial County, the chance of being a victim of violent crime is 1 in 2335. It is way below the state's violent crime rate of 446 per 100,000 residents.

8. The 15 safest cities in the US included six California cities. 

(Money Geek)

Six California cities were ranked as the safest cities in the US for 2023. These are Sunnyvale, West Covina, Jurupa Valley, El Monte, Rancho Cucamonga, and Glendale.



Crime Cost Per Capita


Sunny Vale, CA



West Covina, CA



Jurupa Valley, CA



El Monte, CA



Rancho Cucamonga, CA



Glendale, CA


9. Three California cities were among the 15 safest large US cities.

(Money Geek)

Three California cities made it to the list of the 15 safest large cities in the US in 2023. These are San Diego, San Jose, and Santa Ana. According to the list, San Diego ranked 6th, San Jose ranked 9th, and Santa Ana ranked 13th.

10. For every five homicides, the San Diego Police Department makes four arrests.

(Cal Matters)

San Diego Police Department has the highest clearance rate (85.71%) for homicides among 15 California law enforcement agencies. 

The Long Beach Police Department ranks second with a clearance rate of 77.78%. Kern County Sheriff's Office has 18.64%, making fewer than one arrest in every five homicide cases.

For non-fatal violent crimes, LA Sheriffs have the highest clearance rate (57.36%), while the Oakland Police Department has the lowest (17.3%).

California Crime Statistics by Demographic

Age, gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status affect crime rates. These demographics can also reveal patterns.

That said, showing empathy and avoiding stereotyping populations as criminals is crucial. Here are some demographic statistics to help us understand the factors behind crime in California:

11. 30.11% of violent crime perpetrators and 27.41% of victims are aged 20 to 29.

 (FBI Crime Data Explorer)

Crime rates rise among the younger generation and fall as people age. The "age-crime curve" pattern appears across crime types and countries.

In California, most violent crime offenders belong to the younger age bracket, followed by 30-39 at 25.34%. And as Californians get older, their criminal behavior decreases.  

12. 82.29% of those who commit violent crimes are men. 

(FBI Crime Data Explorer)

Gender is the most important determinant of total crime rates. Men commit crimes more often than women. However, men also account for 58.41% of victims.

13. 57.19% of violent crime offenders are not Hispanic.

(FBI Crime Date Explorer)

In California, non-Hispanics account for 57.19% of violent crime offenders, and the same make up 57.70% of the victims. It's understandable since no race or ethnic group dominates California. 

14. 66.54% of violent crime offenders are white, while black or African American offenders make up 23.54%.

(FBI Crime Date Explorer)

Most violent offenders and victims in California are white. 35.37% of criminal offenders are black or African American, with American Indians or Alaska Natives being the minor offenders.

15. 27.73% of property crime offenders belong to the 30-39 age bracket. 

(FBI Crime Date Explorer)

Most property crime offenders were ages 20–29 and 30–39, accounting for 51.21% of all offenders. 24.20% of the victims were from the same age bracket, followed by 20–19. 

16. 53% of property crime offenders are male.

(FBI Crime Data Explorer)

Most property crime offenders were men, while the involvement of women remained low at 18.58%. 59.93% of the victims of reported property crimes were also men.

California Crime Trend Statistics

Over the years, California's crime rates have fluctuated, with calm intervals followed by spikes in criminal activity. One crucial factor is law enforcement effectiveness in the state. 

Crime rates decrease when law enforcement agencies deter and capture offenders. Let's look at the latest trends in California crime scenes to see how effective they are.

17. California's total statewide clearance rate for non-fatal violent crimes in 2021 was 40%.

(Cal Matters)

Clearance rates measure how well law enforcement solves crimes. It represents the proportion of reported crimes that are solved through an arrest.

The 2021 clearance rate of 40% is below the national 42% clearance rate for non-fatal crimes. On homicides, California showed a higher clearance rate of 55% than the national average of 54%. 

18. California's violent crime rate increased by 6% in 2021.


From 440 per 100,000 residents in 2020, the violent crime rate increased to 446 per 100,000. It is above the national average of 395.7 cases per 100,000 residents, ranking California 16th nationwide. 

Aggravated assaults (8.9%), homicides (7.7%), and rapes (7.9%) contributed to an increase in the violent crime rate.

On a positive note, the state's violent crime rate has dropped from its peak of 1,115 cases per 100,000 residents in 1992. It has remained stable for the last 30 years.

19. Homicides in California increased by 7.2% in 2021. 

(Office of the Attorney General)

The total number of reported homicide cases in the state increased by 7.2%, from 2,202 in 2020 to 2,362 in 2021. It remained below the historical high of 4,095 reported cases in 1993. 

20. 75% of homicide cases with identified weapons involved firearms.


California has strict gun laws. Despite that, firearms remain the most common weapon in reported homicide cases in the state. Firearm-related homicides increased in 2021, the second-highest rate after a three-year decline.

21. Hate crimes increased by 15.16% in 2021.

(Cal Matters)

Hate crimes increased in California from 1,530 in 2020 to 1,782 in 2021. Most hate crimes are racially or ethnically motivated. Black people, for example, made up 44% of the hate crime victims.

Anti-Asian hate crimes spiked from 89 in 2020 to 247 in 2021, drastically increasing by 177.53%. Racist reactions to the COVID-19 outbreak in China drove its rise.

22. The property crime rate increased by 3% in 2021. 


Property crime increased from 2,114.4 per 100,000 residents in 2020 to 2,178.4 in 2021. It remains near historic lows, below the rate of 6,880.6 in 1980. 

Larceny increased in the same year despite a drop in burglaries. Auto theft remained the most reported property crime, rising by 7.6% from its 2020 numbers. 

Larceny thefts comprised 63% of all recorded property crimes in California, followed by burglaries at 16% and auto thefts at 21%. 

23. The property crime rate in San Francisco was the highest, at 2,718 per 100,000 residents. 


It is higher than the statewide crime rate of 2,178.4. Compared to other major cities, San Francisco has low violent crime rates but high property crime rates, such as theft and burglary. 

24. The arrest rate decreased in 2021 by 7.3%.

(Office of the Attorney General)

The arrest rate has continued a year-to-year downward trend. It began in 2004 when the total arrest rate was 5,385.5. From a 2,812.3 arrest rate in 2020, the arrest rate fell by 7.3% (2,606.3) in 2021. 

The Bottom Line

Although California crime trends have increased, they remain below the peak reached in 1992. Personal safety depends on many factors, making it hard to generalize California's safety situation.

Despite high crime rates, many cities and neighborhoods are safe. To avoid becoming a victim, one must be aware of their surroundings and consider the above statistics.