The Berkeley Police Department (file photo). Photo: Kaia Diringer

Violent crime reports in Berkeley rose 23% over the first half of 2017, as compared to the prior year, according to public safety data just released by the FBI.

That puts Berkeley among the top cities in California to see steep increases in violence from January through June last year.

The FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report compiles data for more than 70 cities in California with populations over 100,000. Of those, just 10 reported increases of more than 20%, and Berkeley was among them. More than 40 of those cities saw their violent crime reports drop or remain flat.

Berkeley saw the highest spike in violent crime in the region by far, according to the data. Richmond followed, with an 8% increase.

Generally, some of this data would have been available in Berkeley in September during the police department’s mid-year crime report to the Berkeley City Council. But that report did not happen in 2017.

Violent crime reports were flat or nearly flat in San Francisco, Vallejo, San Jose and Concord. Fremont saw a 1% drop, and Oakland saw a 6% reduction, according to the report, which came out last week.

Berkeley’s violent crime rate per 1,000 people (2.63) is still lower than Oakland (6.55), Richmond (4.65), Vallejo (4.42) and San Francisco (3.52).

But it’s higher than Fremont, Hayward, San Jose and Concord. That means you’re more likely to become a victim of violent crime in Berkeley than in those four cities.

Nationally, the FBI reported “overall declines in the number of property crimes and violent crimes” during the first six months of 2017.

BPD could not be reached for comment Thursday, but generally does not comment on these crime statistics prior to the council report. BPD’s annual crime report — with statistics for the entire prior year — generally comes before council in February.

BPD had one homicide in the first six months of 2017, and 39 rapes, up from 27 in 2016. There were 180 robberies, compared to 151 during the first half of 2016. Aggravated assaults were also up, to 102 from 84.

Berkeley saw a 7% increase in property crimes compared to 2016, but that increase was on the lower side for the region.

Burglary, vehicle theft and arson reports were down in Berkeley, but larceny reports, the most common crime tracked in the federal data, rose from 1,888 to 2,140.

Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist...