Violent crime down in Costa Mesa

COSTA MESA — Violent crime in Costa Mesa dropped slightly in the first half of 2011, while property crime increased by about 70 incidents when compared with the same time period last year.

The FBI this week released its preliminary unified crime reports (UCR), which showed that between January and June 2011, there were 114 violent crimes citywide — down from 122 during the same period in 2010.

The city saw an increase in murder, from one to three, and a drop in aggravated assault from 58 to 49.

Property crimes increased from 1,565 to 1,632 in the beginning of this year, with six arson cases compared with three.

The findings, however, may not be indicative of a larger trend, said UC Irvine criminology professor Elliott Currie.

"[This] probably isn't meaningful one way or another," he said.

A key flaw in the report is rape, crimes committed against the homeless or those involved in crime themselves not being always reported, whereas murder is, due to its nature.

Instead, Currie said people should be thinking about crime over a longer timeline.

"People should be concerned about the long-term effect of the economic crisis," he said. "We can be looking at something pretty bad down the road."

The FBI receives crime reports from cities and compiles its own reports biannually for cities with a population of 100,000 or more. Numbers for murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, vehicle theft and arson were included in the study.

Newport Beach, which has less than 100,000 residents, was not included in the report.

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