The Orange County Register
By Sarah de Crescenzo/Staff Writer

Irvine has again recorded the nation's lowest per capita violent crime rate among cities with at least 100,000 population, officials announced Monday.

Last year was the 11th year in a row that the rapidly growing city maintained its status as one of the nation's safest, with 49 people per 100,000 residents being a victim of violent crime. By comparison, the county's largest city, Anaheim, recorded 317 violent crimes per 100,000 people last year.

In 2014, Irvine police reported 120 violent crimes, which include homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults. That year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which compiles crime data from agencies in an annual report, estimated the city had 242,971 residents.

While there were seven fewer such violent incidents in 2013 - 113 were reported - the city's population was estimated at 235,830, or about 7,000 fewer residents.

Even as Irvine continues to grow in population, its crime rate has remained low.

"As we become bigger, we remain safe," Mayor Steven Choi said in a written statement.

In fact, the federal data released Monday revealed the city had recorded its lowest-ever per capita crime rate. That takes into account Part 1 crimes, a category comprised of violent crime and property crime.

Compared to 2013, the 2014 data show fewer homicides, robberies and aggravated assaults reported. However, 28 rapes were reported in 2014, more than double the 12 reported the prior year.

Property crimes was also down. The 3,045 property crimes reported in 2014 were fewer than in 2013, according to the FBI.

That year, 3,285 property crimes were reported in Irvine: 2,344 incidents of larceny-theft, 583 burglaries and 126 motor vehicle thefts. Incidents were down across the board in 2014 in those categories. Arson offenses were also down, from 10 in 2013 to 8 in 2014.

"This is fantastic news," said Police Chief Dave Maggard, who recently announced he will retire this fall. "I am grateful for the members of our department who work tirelessly every day (and night) in order to keep our community safe."

The reduction in crime in Irvine mirrors a nationwide trend.

Per capita, the rate of violent crimes recorded nationally in 2014 was down 1 percent from 2013, the FBI says. The property crime rate declined by 5 percent.

Based on data from the agencies that provided data to the FBI, the number of property crimes in 2014 shrank 4.3 percent year-over-year; reported burglaries dropped 10.5 percent.

There were also fewer violent crimes reported nationwide in 2014 than in 2013, the federal data show. The decrease was 0.2 percent.

However, like in Irvine, the number of rapes reported rose. The increase was 2.4 percent nationwide. Aggravated assault incidents nationwide also increased when compared to 2013, by 2 percent.

But robberies dwindled 5.6 percent and the number of homicides shrank 0.5 percent.

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