California Arrest Records and Crime Rates

The police and sheriffs of law enforcement bodies serving California's 482 municipalities and 58 counties create police reports or official arrest records to detail the events of an encounter with citizen suspected of committing a crime. The report is written from the standpoint of police and sheriffs, and includes all information about the encounter. This record is useful for that reason, as it is unchangeable, and provides insight for third parties such as courts and citizens.


California Police Reports

Because of police reports and arrest reports, the public, news agencies, and legal professionals are able to understand what happened during police and sheriff action. The effort is designed to offer a degree of accountability and transparency. In this way, government officials and workers can be held accountable in an era where government secrecy is recognized and condemned.

Arrest records describe all details of an incident, and typically includes the names of those involved or present, the time and place of the encounter, the details of actions that occurred as well as countermeasures taken by law enforcement. These records often serve as the first piece of evidence submitted in a case, as police reports, by their nature, are ridged, and unchangeable.

California residents are entitled to seek out those reports, make copies, and utilize the information within. This is due to the implementation of the California Public Records Act (CPRA), which itself was a state version of the national Freedom of Information Act. Per the Open Records Act, “In enacting the CPRA, the Legislature stated that access to information concerning the conduct of the public’s business is a fundamental and necessary right for every person in the State. Cases interpreting the CPRA also have emphasized that its primary purpose is to give the public an opportunity to monitor the functioning of their government. The greater and more unfettered the public official’s power, the greater the public’s interest in monitoring the governmental action.”

Arrest records and police reports can be found through the agency that performed created the document. This may be statewide, a county concern, or a local level activity. Alternatively, visiting the closest police or sheriff headquarters is the first step in finding pertinent records.


Crimes and Arrests

Arrests and crime in the Golden State are lower than it was 10 years ago. Arrests for crime is down from 2008 by 8% from 1,266,505 to 1,165,322 in 2017. Both violent crime and property crime were also down. Violent crime lowered from 185,233 to 178,553 (4% decrease) and property crime lowered from 1,081,272 to 986,769 (4% decrease.)

Violent crime totaled 178,55 in 2017, which accounted for 1,829 homicides, 14,724 rapes, 56,609 robberies, and 105,391 assaults. Property crime came in at 986,769, which accounted for 176,638 burglaries, 168,327 motor vehicle thefts, 641,804 larcenies, and 8,650 incidents of arson.

Arrest categories for California were overall on the downturn, lowering from 2,043,293 in 2008 to 1,403,107. This represents a 31% decrease over a 10 year period. Outside of a small rise from 2013 to 2014, this downward trend remained consistent over the 10 year period. 2017 saw 111,478 arrests for violent crimes statewide, while there were 77,223 for property crimes. The difference in arrests to actual crimes is likely because many property crimes either go unsolved or are not arrestable offenses. Additionally, there were 306,024 felony arrests and 784,229 misdemeanor arrests. Additional arrests occurred for drug offenses with 29,955 arrests, and sex offenses with 5,519.

2013 also saw a widespread redefinition of rape that makes an occurrence much broader and eliminates gender from the wording. Per the United States Department of Justice Archives, “For the first time ever, the new definition includes any gender of victim and perpetrator, not just women being raped by men.  It also recognizes that rape with an object can be as traumatic as penile/vaginal rape. This definition also includes instances in which the victim is unable to give consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.”

To accommodate for an age where specificity is needed to prosecute offenders, the 1924 definition of rape was rewritten from “The carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will” to “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”


County and School Crime

California’s crime rate was higher than the national average in 2017. The nation experienced an overall crime rate of 2,745.1 per 100,000 people in 2017, while California’s was 2,947 in the same year. Violent crime for the nation was 382.9, while California’s 451.5. For property crime, the nation’s rate was 2,362.2, while the Golden State sat at 2,495.6. Still, crimes and arrests in California have slowly decreased over the last 10 years.


San Francisco County, California

San Francisco County, home to the city of San Francisco, had the most overall crime and arrest rate in 2017. With a population of 884,363, the county experienced 61,663 total arrests or crimes, which represents 56 murders, 373 rapes, 3,281 robberies, 2,700 aggravated assaults, 4,993 burglaries, 45,385 larcenies, 4,875 car thefts, and 303 cases of Arson. The largest school in San Francisco County is San Francisco State University, with a student population of over 29,607. The school reported 19 rapes, 3 robberies, 55 burglaries, 11 motor vehicle thefts, 3 incidents of arson, 9 illegal weapon possessions, 16 drug law violations, and 32 liquor law violations between 2013 and 2015. Official arrest records in San Francisco County can be requested by emailing the Sheriff’s Public Records Department at

San Joaquin County, California

San Joaquin County, with a population of 745,424, had the second highest violent crime and arrests rate in California counties. San Joaquin experienced 27,742 arrests in 2017. This accounted for 68 murders, 247 rapes, 1,671 robberies, and 4,005 aggravated assaults for violent crime. For property crime, the county experienced 3,925 burglaries, 13,965 larcenies, 3,861 car thefts, and 270 cases of arson. The county is home to San Joaquin Delta College, with a population of 18,610. The college reported 4 rapes, 15 robberies, 4 assaults, 12 burglaries, 18 motor vehicle thefts, 14 illegal weapons possessions, 34 drug law violations, and 9 liquor law violations between 2013 and 2015. Official arrest records can be obtained by visiting the San Joaquin Sheriff’s office and filling out a request form. The form can also be submitted via mail. The average fee is $10, though additional charges may apply. Cash, check, money order, and credit cards are all acceptable forms of payment. For additional information, call 209-468-4408.

Shasta County, California

Shasta County experienced 6,870 arrests, putting it third for arrest rate, and has a population of 179,921 residents. The county had 1,225 for violent crime, which accounted for 6 murders, 118 rapes, 177 robberies, and 924 aggravated assaults. For their 5,645 property crimes, the county arrested 1,249 burglars, 3,175 larcenists, 1,221 car thieves, and 61 arsonists. Shasta County is where Shasta College is situated. With a population of 10,025, the university reported 3 rapes, 3 assaults, 15 burglaries, 2 vehicle thefts, 6 illegal weapon possessions, 10 drug law violations, and 2 liquor law violations between 2013 and 2015. Official arrest records can be obtained from the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office. They can be reached at 530-245-6025. An application can be obtained from the office of the sheriff downloaded from the sheriff’s website.

Alameda County, California

Alameda County arrested 73,784, putting it at fourth in terms of arrest rate. It has a population of 1.7 million people. Those arrests accounted for 9,923 violent crimes including 90 murders, 810 rapes, 4,817 robberies, and 4,206 aggravated assaults. For property crime, the county experienced 63,861 property crimes, which accounted for 6,915 burglaries, 44,340 larcenies, 12,606 car thefts, and 439 arson attempts. Alameda County contains the University of California - Berkeley, which has a student population of 41,910. Between 2013 and 2015, the campus reported 1 murder, 42 rapes, 48 robberies, 26 assaults, 151 burglaries, 42 motor vehicle thefts, 9 arson incidents, 76 illegal weapon possessions, 317 drug law violations, and 122 liquor law violations. Official arrest records can be claimed at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office. Further information is available by contacting them at 510-667-3685 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. A request form is required and can be found online, or in person after filling out a request form. Mail the form to, 2000 - 150th Avenue, San Leandro, CA, or by fax at 510-667-3970.

Del Norte County, California

Del Norte County was fifth in terms of arrest rate, with 843 arrested individuals, and has 27,470 active residents. For their 151 violent crime, the county oversaw the arrest of 4 murders, 29 rapists, 23 robbers, and 95 assaulters. For the 692 property crimes, the county experienced 221 burglaries, 375 larcenies, 96 car thefts, and 19 arson attempts. Del Norte County is home to the College of Redwoods; a two year community college with a population around 6,000 students. The university reported 4 assaults, 10 burglaries, 2 motor vehicle thefts, and 1 liquor law violations. Arrest records are available through the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office. To request official arrest records, interested parties can fill out a form and turn it into the California Department of Justice.

Madera County, California

Madera County arrested 4,375 individuals and has 156,890 residents, making it sixth for arrest rate. In 2017, they were subject to 7 murders, 56 rapes, 145 robberies, and 683 aggravated assaults. For property crime, there were 941 burglaries, 1,830 larcenies, 713 car thefts, and 32 arson instances. To find an official arrest record in Madera County, visit the sheriffs department at 2725 Falcon Drive in Madera, CA. For more information, call 559-675-7770.

Mendocino County, California

Mendocino was the seventh largest county for arrest rates, with 1,754 arrests in 2017. They have a population of 88,018 Of the arrests, there were 4 murders, 51 rapes, 49 robberies, and 376 aggravated assaults. For property crime, there were 315 burglaries, 749 larcenies, 210 car thefts, and 26 arson attempts. The largest school in Mendocino is Mendocino College, with a population of around 4,000 students. The school reported only 1 robbery and 1 burglary between 2013 and 2015. Official arrest records and booking numbers can be found online through the Mendocino County Sheriff’s website. Alternatively, call them at 707-463-4048, or visit them at 951 Low Gap Road, Ukiah, CA.

Merced County, California

Merced County oversaw 8,705 arrests, and has a population of 272,673, making the eighth largest county for arrest rate. Those arrests include 19 murders, 64 rapes, 274 robberies, and 1,200 aggravated assault. For property crime, there were 1,607 burglaries, 4,383 larcenies, 1,158 car thefts, and 132 instances of arson. The largest school in Merced County is the University of California - Merced with a population of over 7,300. They reported 4 rapes, 8 assaults, 2 burglaries, 1 motor vehicle theft, 2 illegal weapon possessions, and 8 drug law violations between 2013 and 2015. Official arrest records for Merced County can be found at the Merced County Sheriff’s office. For more information, call 209-385-7616, or by fax at 209-724-4016.

Inyo County, California

Inyo County saw 641 arrests and has a population of 18,026, making it ninth for total crime rate. For violent crime, the country faced 16 rapes, 11 robberies, and 101 aggravated assaults. In terms of property crime, the county experienced 131 burglaries, 327 larcenies, 56 car thefts, and 3 arsons. Inyo County is the location of the Deep Springs College; a school with a population of just 26 students in 2010. Between 2013 and 2015, the campus no crime. Arrest records in Inyo can be found through the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office. To request an official arrest record or learn more information, contact the Records Department at 760-878-0336 during normal working hours (9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday). Requesting an official arrest record requires the name of the victim, the parties involved, or licensure as a practicing lawyer. A form is also required to request an official arrest record. A $10 cost is associated with record lookup services.

Stanislaus County, California

Stanislaus County was tenth in arrest rate for California counties with 20,089 arrests in 2017. They have a population of 547,899. For violent crime, the county had 41 murders, 196 rapes, 905 robberies, and 2,158 aggravated assaults. In terms of property crime, the county had 2,774 burglaries, 10,781 larcenies, 3,234 car thefts, and 127 instances of arson. Stanislaus County is home to California State University - Stanislaus with a population of 10,003 students. They reported 13 rapes, 2 robberies, 1 assault, 9 burglaries, 6 motor vehicle thefts, 3 illegal weapon possessions, 7 drug law violations, and 5 liquor law violations between 2013 and 2015. Official arrest records in Stanislaus County can be found through the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office. For more information, call 209-525-7134, or visit them at 250 E. Hackett Road in Modesto.

State of California Department of Justice

Offense 20132014201520162017
Crime Total
151,634 151,425 166,588 174,701 178,553
Motor Vhicle
Crime Total
1,018,333 946,682 1,023,828 1,001,380 986,769