What does Anaheim have in common with El Cajon, Temecula, Ventura and San Bernardino?
I mean besides the exact same strip malls, fast-food joints and foreclosure signs.
It's the distinction of being a Southern California city with more than 100,000 residents and a significant spike in violent crime.
Anaheim reported a 10 percent jump in violent crime, going from 1,161 in 2010 to
1,281 last year, according to the FBI's annual preliminary Uniform Crime Report, which also shows murders jumped from 7 in '10 to 15 in '11, forcible rapes increased from 88 to 105, and robberies spiked from 574 to 715 in the city of 340,218.
By the way, this is the same collection of FBI data that concluded Irvine was the safest city in the U.S. for the eighth straight year. With a population of 214,872, Irvine had only 120 reports of violent crimes in both 2010 and 2011.
At least Toontown can still say it's not the unsafest city in the U.S.–heck, not even SoCal. Murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault–the fearsome foursome that composes violent crime–rose 37 percent in El Cajon, 28 percent in Temecula, 24 percent in Ventura and 15 percent in San Bernardino in 2011.
Thomas W. Ward, a USC anthropology professor and author of Gangsters Without Borders, which is about the Salvadoran gang MS-13, blames the
spikes on gangs increasingly crime-ing it up, even in areas not used to such mayhem.
“There are spikes in activity often
in places that did not see very much gang activity in the past,” Ward reportedly tells KNBC News 4.
“Gang members are moving into new areas to get away from problems
they're having. . . . It only takes a few cases to make the numbers jump out.”
Also showing an uptick in violent crime from 2010 to 2011, according to the FBI stats, was Anaheim-adjacent Orange (pop. 138,020, up from 150 to 157), while Long Beach (pop. 467,691) had such nonsense rise from 2,720 to 2,857. Where did many of these violent crimes take place? Anaheim Street. Coincidence?
Meanwhile, other Orange County cities mirrored the overall U.S., where violent crimes were down 4 percent in 2011. These include Costa Mesa (pop. 111,253) from 240 to 231; Fullerton (136,750) from 425 to 306; Garden Grove (172,892) from 539 to 449; Huntington Beach (192,226) from 449 to 406; and, yes haters, even Santa Ana (328,323) from 1,510 to 1,313.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.