The stabbing death of Cash App Founder Bob Lee This week has stoked fear among residents and tech industry leaders about San Francisco’s crime rate.
But experts say violent crime in City by the Bay is not higher than in other cities of similar size and has actually declined over the past decade.
A 43-year-old man identified by family and friends as Lee was found by police Tuesday morning with stab wounds on Main Street in San Francisco’s Rincon Hill neighborhood, according to a press release. of the San Francisco Police Department. Lee died later at the hospital.
Lee is the product manager of crypto startup MobileCoin and previously served as chief technology officer at payments platform Square, which has now been renamed Block. Lee developed the Cash App in 2013.
Lee moved to Miami in October but was in San Francisco for a MobileCoin leadership summit and decided to stay a few more days to spend time with friends, he said. friend Doug Daltonwho had dinner with him last Saturday.
Following Lee’s death, tech executives, including Twitter CEO Elon Musk, condemned the violence in the city, where the County is progressive. Atty. Chesa Boudin is remembered by voters last year after being criticized for being “soft on crime” and neglecting to address public safety and homelessness.
musk tweeted: “Violent crime in SF is horrible and even when attackers are caught they are usually released immediately.”
Venture capitalist Matt Ockoa friend of Lee, tweeted that Boudin “and the crime-loving city council facilitated him and a lawless SF for years with Bob’s bloody hands.”
Violent crime, defined by California Department of Justice such as murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, culminating in 2013 in San Francisco with 7,064 incidents. The rate has fallen over the past decade, to 4,796 in 2020 before rising slightly to 4,887 in 2021. The state agency has yet to release crime statistics for 2022.
San Francisco Police Commissioner Kevin Benedicto pointed out that San Francisco’s violent crime rate is lower than in other major cities.
“Overall, if you look at the last five years and 10 years on a longer-term scale, crime is at a historic low,” he said. “San Francisco has the same public safety issues as every other major city, and it is unfairly portrayed as being in the midst of a crime wave that is not born of data.”
Although San Francisco recorded 56 homicides in 2022, the number is much smaller than other cities of similar size, such as Denver with 88 homicides, Nashville with 108, City Oklahoma with 71 and Columbus with 140, according to data from the Metropolitan Police. Head of Assn.
Benedicto stressed that not much information has been released about the stabbing and that the investigation is ongoing.
“You see a lot of stories that are exaggerated and false, whether it’s about crime rates or people trying to link it to homelessness or other issues, but we don’t know if it’s related to this incident or not,” Benedicto said. “I want to encourage people to focus on the victim and not push a political agenda or exploit this tragedy.”
Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) also rejected the notion that San Francisco is struggling with a high violent crime rate.
“I think it’s unfortunate that we’re seeing this story that San Francisco is a particularly violent place. That’s not true,” he said.
Regarding Lee’s death, Wiener said “one murder is too many.” He also criticized Musk’s comments about the tragedy, calling him “a mercenary opportunist who doesn’t care about San Francisco.”
Kimberly Richman, a professor of criminal justice and legal studies at the University of San Francisco, notes that because San Francisco’s homicide rate is low, the increase of a few cases per year makes the situation seem more dire. reality.
San Francisco police handled 56 homicides in both 2022 and 2021, up from 46 homicides in 2020 and 41 in 2019, according to police data.
“When people notice something like year-to-year differences in an already very small category, it seems to be amplified from year to year,” she said. “That can be mitigated by focusing more broadly and looking at crime rates over time and seeing that this really hasn’t changed much, but people often don’t.”
Attention to crime rates in the city has also been helped by apps and social media, Richman said, such as Nextdoor, a social networking site where neighborhoods can post tips and warning.
“Our crime and murder rates are a lot lower than they were in the 1990s, but in the 90s we didn’t have access to the same amount of information at the time,” she said. “The reality is these things happened, but we just don’t know about it to the same extent.”
Richman said Lee’s death served as a lightning rod for discussion about the city’s crime rate because of his high status and the neighborhood where he was killed.
“A murder as famous as Bob Lee, a white, wealthy, upper-class man in a neighborhood you don’t associate with crime rates, seems like it’s also here and out of control. control,” she said. “We know people are paying more attention to violent crimes and murders that include white victims, so these cases really grab the public’s attention.”
Although San Francisco has a relatively low violent crime rate, the city has the highest rate of property crime in the state, particularly due to car thefts and break-ins, said Magnus Lofstrom, chief executive officer criminal justice policy and is a senior fellow at the California Nonpartisan Public Policy Institute.
Property crime in the city grew 16.9% in 2021, according to the California Department of Justice’s Center for Criminal Justice Statistics. The Bay Area has the highest property crime rate in the state, with a rate of 2,718 cases per 100,000 residents.
The reason for San Francisco’s high real estate rate is difficult to pinpoint, Lofstrom said, but one contributing factor could be the large number of visitors the city receives relative to its size.
“When we generate these crime rates, what we use is the number of reported crimes per resident of that area,” he said. “There are a large number of tourists and non-resident workers coming to the city and they may be victims of these property crimes.”