Crime in California

California's crime rate

There were 1,118,600 crimes reported in California in 2018, the most recent year crime data is available. Adjusted for population, California's crime rate is 2,828 crimes per 100,000 residents.

How does California compare?

Crime is more common in California than it is on average nationwide. By comparison, the national crime rate of 2,580 per 100,000 people is 9% lower. Of the 50 states, 19 have a higher crime rate than California.

Crime rates nationwide range from 1,422 per 100,000 in New Hampshire to 4,276 per 100,000 in New Mexico, the states with the lowest and highest crime rates, respectively.

Here are the crime rates for all 50 states.

What types of crimes are being committed?

The FBI's crime rate includes seven crime categories: three property crimes -- larceny, burglary, and motor vehicle theft, and four violent crimes -- aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder.

Property crime

The vast majority of crimes in America are property crimes, accounting for 85% of total crimes in 2018. This share was roughly the same in California, with property crimes accounting for 84% of all crimes reported in the state.

There were 941,618 property crimes reported in California in 2018, or 2,380 per 100,000 residents. This is higher than the national rate of 2,200 property crimes per 100,000 people and is the 21st highest rate of the 50 states.

Larceny

Larceny is by far the most common type of property crime. The 5,217,055 reported incidents nationwide in 2018 accounted for 72% of all property crime. California's rate of 1,572 reported larceny incidents per 100,000 residents is roughly the same as the nationwide rate of 1,595 per 100,000 and is the 25th highest among states.

Burglary

An estimated 164,632 break-ins were reported in California in 2018, or 416 per 100,000 state residents -- the 17th highest rate among states. For reference, there were an estimated 1,230,149 break-ins nationwide, or 376 break-ins per 100,000 people.

Motor vehicle theft

Across the U.S., there were 748,841 reported motor vehicle thefts in 2018, a rate of 229 per 100,000 people. California's rate of 392 motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents was much higher than this national rate and the fifth highest rate compared to all states.

Violent crime

Violent crimes make up a small share of crimes nationwide. In California, violent crimes account for 16% of total crimes, versus 15% nationwide.

While California has the 31st lowest total crime rate of all states, it has the 37th lowest violent crime rate. The state’s violent crime rate of 447 per 100,000 people is higher than the national rate of 381 per 100,000. There were 176,982 violent crimes reported to California law enforcement agencies in 2018.

Aggravated assault

Aggravated assault is by far the most common type of violent crime. Nationwide, there were 807,410 aggravated assaults in 2018, accounting for 65% of violent crimes across the country. In California, 105,412 aggravated assaults were reported in 2018. California's rate of aggravated assault of 266 per 100,000 people is slightly higher than the national rate of 247 per 100,000 and is the 18th highest of all states.

Robbery

Robbery is the second most common type of violent crime in America. There were 54,326 robberies reported in California in 2018, or 137 robberies for every 100,000 residents. This is much higher than the national rate of 86 robberies per 100,000 people, and the second highest robbery rate among states.

Rape

There were 15,505 reported rapes in 2018 in California. The state's rate of rape of 39.2 per 100,000 residents is slightly lower than the national rate of 42.6 per 100,000 people. California has the 18th lowest rate of rape.

Murder

In 2018, there were 1739 murders reported to law enforcement in California. The state’s murder rate of 4.4 per 100,000 residents is lower than the national rate of 5.0 per 100,000. California's murder rate is the 25th lowest in the country.

Where are these crimes being committed?

Because crime is influenced by local circumstances, crime levels vary considerably within each state. Often a state’s dense urban areas will have higher crime rates than its rural areas. Even in a state with an exceptionally low crime rate, there is often at least one area where crime rates exceed the nation.

City with the highest crime rate in California

The city with the highest total crime rate in California is Emeryville, with a crime rate of 18,176 per 100,000 residents. This excludes cities with a population below 5,000 and cities with incomplete FBI crime reports.

Because property crimes are much more common than violent crimes, often the city with the highest total crime rate in a state has an especially high property crime rate but not the highest violent crime rate. However, this is not the case in California. Not only does Emeryville have the highest total crime rate in the state, but it also has the highest property crime rate at 16,761 per 100,000 and highest violent crime rate at 1,415 per 100,000. The city's violent crime rate is more than triple the statewide rate.

Crime over time

National historical trend

The FBI provides access to crime data by state dating back to 1960. This nearly 60-year span, can be divided into three periods. Crime skyrocketed between 1960 and 1980, with the crime rate more than tripling in just 20 years from 1,887 crimes per 100,000 Americans to 5,950 crimes per 100,000 Americans.

Crime remained high in the 1980s and reached its second highest peak in 1991. Since that year, crime has fallen steadily nationwide, reaching its current rate of 2,580 per 100,000, a 56% decline in 27 years.

California's historical trend

In 1960, California's crime rate was 3,474 crimes per 100,000 residents. Crime peaked in the state in 1980 at 7,833 per 100,000, an increase of 125%.

Crime changes 2013-2018

Over the five years since 2013, the nationwide total crime rate has decreased by 16.8%, but this change varied dramatically between states. In New Hampshire, for example, the crime rate decreased by 43.6%, the largest decline of any state. The largest increase was in Alaska, where crime rose by 19.0% between 2013 and 2018.

With a decrease of 7.4%, California's crime rate has fallen much slower than the country as a whole. The crime rate declined in 47 states over this time period, and in most of them, it declined faster than in California.

How California has compared to other states historically

Since 1960, California has typically had a higher crime rate than the majority of states. Over these 59 years, the state has been among the 10 states with the highest crime rates in 35 of them, but never among the states with the lowest crime rates. Notably, California has been the state with the highest crime rate in the country in nine years since 1960.

All cities in California

Here are all California cities ranked by total crime rate. For a city to be included, it must have a complete 2018 FBI crime report and population of 5,000 or more. Click any bar or city name to see more about crime in that city.

Click here to see a list of all city crime pages.

Click here to see a list of all state crime pages.