Writing Sacramento Crime

Sacramento Crime

Sacramento as a setting for crime fiction?

The sleepy state capitol town doesn’t get a great deal of attention from the hardcore crime community. Crime fiction relies on–well, crime. Naturally, the first places you think of are New York, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Newark, Detoit, Baltimore–You get the idea, places where crime is highly publicized and the media market isn’t afraid to show it. If the city where the action is taking place is a yawner, then the storyline in a crime fiction piece might have to rely on a complex scheme to dine and dash at the Waffle House.

image by colin brown via flickr creative commons

Fortunately (for me) and unfortunately for the folks who have to double lock their doors and windows, Sacramento is holding it’s own on the fight to gain national recognition in the crime world.

Sacramento’s rise to dubious heights is kept under wraps because the city is desperately trying to reinvent itself every couple of years…The City of Trees (also the center of Dutch Elm disease), The Farm to Fork Capitol ( featuring organic foods that most folks can’t afford), City of Diversity (and hub for human trafficking) and most recently the mayor’s call for an aquarium and homeless housing–hopefully not in the same place.

Inspite of these public policy diversions, or perhaps because of them, Sacramento crime has risen to levels higher than the national average and beats the rates found in New York and Los Angeles. Yay, Sacramento!

image by dennis skley via flickr creative commons

Let’s dive in, shall we?

Murder rates calculated as crimes per 100,000 population:

Sacramento: 8.8
New York:          4.1
Los Angeles:      7.1
National Ave:    4.9

Robbery crimes per 100,000:

Sacramento: 239.7
New York:         198.2
Los Angeles:      225.9
National Ave:    101.9

Rape crimes per 100,000:

Sacramento: 21.4
New York:         26.2
Los Angeles:      55.7
National Ave:    38.6

Total Violent Crime rate per 100,000:

Sacramento: 737
New York:         586
Los Angeles:     635
National Ave:   373

Well done Sacramento! We knew you had it. Except for Rape–so you’re more likely to get murdered and violently beaten than raped in the capitol city. Maybe the city fathers should change the city’s name once more to “Sacramento–The Last Place You’ll Ever See.”

There are plenty of reasons violent crime has taken hold in Sacramento. Without any research, or evidence behind it, my belief is that there are a lack of meaningful services in the city to impact the cycle of crime. Underfunded addiction recovery programs, few pre-release programs, lack of homeless shelters, overtaxed local law enforcement and recent changes to sentencing and parole supervision practices, result in a high need population with very little in support. A self fulfilling criminal prophecy.

View of folsom prison main yard via getty images

It makes a challenging place to live and work, at times. But the backdrop of Sacramento’s crime, heavy political drama, and a never-ending desire to be something other than what it is by rebranding the city every couple of years, makes for a great setting for crime fiction. I chose the city as the setting in my novel AT WHAT COST (Crooked Lane Books) to take advantage of some of these influences. The city will also feature in the sequel, DOING JUSTICE (Crooked Lane Books), tentatively set for publication on December 12, 2017.

So, boys and girls, lock up tight and stay safe out there.

(data via areabibes.com)


  1. Was there any indication from anyone that they were going to work on getting the rape statistics up? God knows not much is being done to lower any of them.

    1. I’m going speculate that the lower rate stats are due to Sacramento women with Tazers. Good for them.

  2. Delores · · Reply

    Thanks for all the good news. I’ve been trying to get out of here (CA) for a few years now and this just reinforces my reasoning. Very interesting info. I hale from Los Angeles and people up here look down their noses if it is mentioned: no reason to, we have LA all beat to heck except on rape.

  3. Delores · · Reply

    Just heard today that the “people” at the State capitol are putting through a bill to do away with bail. Everyone, except murderers would be able to go out on their own reconnaissances with just their signature. Now that should help get our stats up even higher!!

    1. The bail argument seems to be another artifact of the participation trophy generation. It’s not fair, they claim. Don’t go around stabbing and robbing people…that’s not fair either.

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