The Sheriff's Department reported a record 38% increase in violent crime in the county's unincorporated areas and five contract cities during the first part of 1989.
It is the biggest jump reported by any police agency in the county.
Statistics on the number of violent crimes--homicide, rape, robbery and assault--were compiled by the California Attorney General Bureau of Criminal Statistics, comparing January-June of 1989 with the same period last year.
"With statistics, it's really difficult to tell why it went up or down," said Sheriff's Lt. Richard J. Olson. "We can only take a good, hard look at (the statistics) . . . to see if there's anything we need to address."
Although robberies fell 3.4% from last year's preliminary report, aggravated assaults increased 53.3%--the highest in the county, and the third-highest among California cities with populations of 100,000 and more.
Olson blamed the population escalation in the unincorporated areas for the increase in crime. In addition to law enforcement in the county's unincorporated communities, the department also is responsible for five contract cities--Stanton, Villa Park, Mission Viejo, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano.
"Any time you have more people, you have more crime," Olson said. "We've got programs in place for drug abuse and Neighborhood Watch and everything else." He added that after reviewing the report, the department would increase patrols and community services as needed.
Four of the county's six largest cities also showed increases in violent crimes, according to the study. In Santa Ana, violent crimes were up 28.4%; in Anaheim, 24.6%; in Orange 8.9%; and in Huntington Beach, 24.1%.
Fullerton and Garden Grove showed decreases in violent crimes.