Santa Barbara County crimes decrease overall in 2020, violent crimes increase

Dave Minsky, Santa Maria Times, Calif.
·3 min read

Feb. 24—Crimes in Santa Barbara County decreased slightly in 2020 while violent crimes increased that same year, according statistics released Friday by the Sheriff's Office.

The statistics reflect crimes in unincorporated parts of the county, as well as in Buellton, Solvang, Carpinteria and Goleta, which contract with the Sheriff's Office for police services.

The data include Part 1 crimes, which are considered serious and include homicide, rape, aggravated assault and property crimes such as motor vehicle theft and burglary; and Part 2 crimes, which are lower-level offenses that include vandalism, disorderly conduct and fraud.

Sheriff's statistics show that total crimes across Santa Barbara County decreased from 10,951 to 10,165, or 7.2%, between 2019 and 2020.

Violent crimes across the county increased from 303 to 323 reported incidents, or 7%, during the same time period, according to statistics, but show a decrease from 341 to 323 incidents, or a 5% decrease, from 2011 to 2020.

Homicides decreased from four to zero, a 100% decrease, but reported rapes increased from 24 to 41, or 71%, across Santa Barbara County.

Buellton experienced the largest increase in reported Part 1 crime between 2019 and 2020, going from 58 to 89 incidents, for a 53% increase, according to statistics.

Additionally, the city also experienced the largest increase in violent crime compared to other Sheriff's jurisdictions, from two to nine incidents for a 350% increase, including a 200% increase in aggravated assaults, from two to six incidents between 2019 and 2020.

In contrast, the unincorporated parts of the county — which do not include Isla Vista, Carpinteria, Buellton, Goleta or Solvang — — experienced a 4% decrease in violent crime, going from 234 to 225 incidents; although rapes increased from 20 to 34, or 70%; and robberies increased from 26 to 32, or 23%, between 2019 and 2020, according to statistics.

Hands and feet were used as the weapons of choice in most instances of Santa Barbara County robbery with 25 reported incidents; and in most aggravated assaults — 112 reported incidents across all jurisdictions in 2020, statistics show.

Part 1 crimes in Santa Barbara County also include property crimes, which increased by 20% from 2019 to 2020, or from 2,167 to 2,591 reported incidents including a 27% increase in thefts, which went from 1,495 to 2,010 reported incidents; and a 73% spike in motor vehicle thefts, from 90 to 156 incidents, according to statistics.

Additionally, arsons increased from 8 to 19 reported incidents, for a 138% increase; while burglaries decreased by 16%, from 484 to 406 reported incidents between 2019 and 2020.

Unincorporated parts of the county experienced the biggest spike in motor vehicle thefts, going from 15 to 60 reported incidents for a 300% increase between 2019 and 2020. They decreased 38% from 24 to 15 incidents between 2018 and 2019, the year prior.

Of all Part 1 crimes, motor vehicle thefts have spiked the most dramatically across Santa Barbara County, with an increase from 47 to 156, or 232%, from 2011 to 2020, according to statistics, while unincorporated areas experienced an increase from eight to 60 incidents, for a 650% increase during the same time period.

The most common type of vehicle stolen in 2020 was either a truck or a bus, at 66 reported incidents; while 73 motor vehicles reported stolen were taken elsewhere but recovered locally, according to statistics.