Statement: Mayor Jerry Sanders told SDNN last week that “cyber crime in San Diego has probably gone up at the same rate other crime has dropped.”

Determination: Mostly True

Analysis: To start, cyber crime is broadly defined by law enforcement officials as crimes involving computers, information networking or use of the internet.

In his statement, Sanders tried making the point that cyber crime has grown while violent and property crimes have declined. Earlier that day, San Diego Police reported that violent crime had fallen by 2 percent and property crime by 18 percent.

But here’s the problem: Sanders and local law enforcement agencies don’t know whether cyber crime is going up or down in the city. When Sanders made his statement, it was based on “his broad understanding of regional and national trends,” spokesman Alex Roth said.

“[The] mayor said that while cybercrime is probably going up locally, he also noted that it’s a hard crime to quantify,” Roth added.

Authorities at local law enforcement agencies said they don’t track incidents of cyber crime like they do some violent and property crimes. Instead, they pointed to state and national data showing an increasing number of complaints in recent years.

In 2008, the federal government received 275,284 complaints through an online complaint system, a 33 percent increase from the previous year. In California, which officials say is home to more cyber crime perpetrators than any other state, the number of complaints increased by 35 percent.

In the San Diego region, a task force dedicated to investigating cyber crimes has reported mixed trends based on its annual caseload. Comparing the 2009 fiscal year to the previous year, the task force handled more cases in 2009 but they involved a fewer number of victims. The amount of money lost to cyber crime, however, increased from $517,000 to $4.1 million.


Summer Polacek was formerly the Development Manager at Voice of San Diego.

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