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Crime in San Francisco—especially the Mission—is returning to pre-pandemic levels

Crime in San Francisco appears to be returning to pre-pandemic levels, and killings, violent attacks and property crimes were up significantly in almost every category last year in the Mission District, according to new statistics from the San Francisco Police Department. 

Mayor London Breed and Police Chief Bill Scott held their second press conference in as many days Wednesday to release the city’s annual crime stats report, just a day after the pair called attention to a surge in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

“Nothing is more important than to make sure that people who live in this city, people who work in this city, people who visit San Francisco, feel safe as they walk down the streets,” Breed said Wednesday in a virtual press conference. 

SFPD reported 56 homicides in 2021, which was up by three from 2020 but noticeably higher than the 41 killings in 2019. That mirrors a nationwide trend of increasing homicides, and in San Francisco, it marks a return to the level seen in 2017. In the Mission, homicides last year increased by 80% as eight people were killed compared to the five dead in 2020. 

“Fifty-six homicides for San Francisco is a big deal,” Chief Scott said Wednesday. “It’s a big deal, and it’s something we’re committed to turning around.”

The mayor used the opportunity to advocate for $22.5 million in additional funding for police and firefighters as the departments struggle with staffing shortages during the Covid pandemic. 

“This is asking for the basics of what everyone expects as it relates to public safety,” Breed said.

Gun violence has increased over the last two years, as 222 people were shot in fatal and nonfatal incidents in 2021. That marks a massive increase from 2019, when just 137 people were victims of gun violence, but it is on par with the 223 gun violence victims in 2016. In the Mission alone, shooting incidents went up 82%, from 17 incidents in 2020 to 31 last year. 

Scott said the police department and the mayor’s office are working to reach out and investigate gun violence cases on an individual basis, which are the major driver of homicides. 

“We don’t really know the role that the global pandemic plays in this,” Scott said. “What we do know is that this category is going up, and we need to turn it around.”

Overall, rape cases were down in 2021, which continued a trend that started in 2020 as people went into lockdown. But in the Mission last year, rapes increased by 28% from 2020, going from 25 to 32 last year.

The only decrease in crime in the Mission last year was human trafficking for sex, with just three cases reported in 2021 compared to nine in 2020. 

Despite the highly publicized smash-and-grabs at stores in Union Square and other places in the city late last year, robberies were down citywide compared to just two years ago with 2,242 incidents reported. Robberies stayed relatively steady in the Mission District, while aggravated assaults rose 22% in the neighborhood. 

While burglaries saw a 10% increase in the Mission, they were down overall in the city in 2021 compared to 2020. However, with roughly 7,000 incidents, the trend in burglaries remained markedly higher than in 2015, when just around 5,000 of these crimes were reported. 

Scott said the pandemic and civil unrest during the summer of 2020 may have contributed to increased burglaries, but neither accounts for the overall spike. He said many of the suspects are repeat offenders. 

“We’re not out of the woods on burglaries,” Scott said. “We still have a lot of work to do.”

Car break-ins saw their absolute high in 2015 with more than 7,000 reported. By 2019, they were down to 4,442 before rising again to more than 6,000 in 2020 and 2021.

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