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September 25, 2017

Official FBI crime data confirms that 2016 saw another notable increase in violent crime and further reductions in property crime

Early markers suggested that violent crime was increasing in 2016 in the United States, after having increased in 2015 following record low violent crime rates in 2014.  This official FBI press release provides these basics:

The estimated number of violent crimes in the nation increased for the second straight year, rising 4.1 percent in 2016 when compared with 2015 data, according to FBI figures released today. Property crimes dropped 1.3 percent, marking the 14th consecutive year the collective estimates for these offenses declined.

The 2016 statistics show the estimated rate of violent crime was 386.3 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, and the estimated rate of property crime was 2,450.7 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants.  The violent crime rate rose 3.4 percent compared with the 2015 rate, and the property crime rate declined 2.0 percent.

These and additional data are presented in the 2016 edition of the FBI’s annual report Crime in the United States.  This publication is a statistical compilation of offense, arrest, and police employee data reported by law enforcement agencies voluntarily participating in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program.  The UCR Program streamlined the 2016 edition by reducing the number of tables from 81 to 29, but still presented the major topics, such as offenses known, clearances, and persons arrested.  Limited federal crime, human trafficking, and cargo theft data are also included....

Of the 18,481 city, county, university and college, state, tribal, and federal agencies eligible to participate in the UCR Program, 16,782 submitted

  • In 2016, there were an estimated 1,248,185 violent crimes. Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter offenses increased 8.6 percent when compared with estimates from 2015.  Aggravated assault and rape (legacy definition) offenses increased 5.1 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively, and robbery increased 1.2 percent.
  • Nationwide, there were an estimated 7,919,035 property crimes. The estimated numbers for two of the three property crimes show declines when compared with the previous year’s estimates. Burglaries dropped 4.6 percent, larceny-thefts declined 1.5 percent, but motor vehicle thefts rose 7.4 percent.
As readers surely know, rising crime rates always provide fodder for politicians and others to championing tougher sentencing regimes, and we have heard both Prez Trump and Attorney General Sessions stress rising violent crime as a justification for certain policies. I suspect we may soon see these new FBI data appearing in speeches by DOJ officials and others, though folks eager to push back on concerns about a modern new crime wave have already been talking up the recent Brennan Center analysis discussed here suggesting crime rates may be stabilizing or declining in 2017.

At the risk of seeming a bit too Pollyannaish, I think the FBI report that property crimes in 2016 dropped for the 14th consecutive year is a big piece of the national crime story very much worth celebrating. Though violent crimes rates understandably get the most attention, property crimes impact the most people — there are, roughly speaking, more than five property crimes for every violent crime — so drops property crimes can end up meaning a lot more persons and families experienced a crime-free year even when there are spikes in violent crime.

I expect various policy folks will be mining this latest FBI data for crime-specific and region-specific stories. I will try to cover some of the coming coverage and analysis in coming posts.

September 25, 2017 at 10:42 AM | Permalink


I believe it ridiculous that it takes 3/4 of 2017 before such final data is available for 2016.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Sep 25, 2017 11:28:32 AM

As the writer/producer of The Wire has said several times: you want violent crime to go down? Legalize drugs. He should know. He did crime in Baltimore as a journalist for decades before he created The Wire, which is about how crime in Balitmore affects Baltimore. Such a simple simple solution. When will the law heads and nutty Puritans that are the loudest voices in this debate be quelled so that drugs can be legalized? It will happen, one way or another. It's just a matter of time.
Save time. Do it now. Watch the violent stats go down.

Posted by: Stephen Douglas | Sep 25, 2017 12:20:08 PM

"The estimated number of violent crimes in the nation increased for the second straight year, rising 4.1 percent in 2016 when compared with 2015 data, according to FBI figures released today."

How? Past coverage here suggests the increase centers on a few urban areas.

The second comment is notable too -- granting the increase, the proper policy approaches is another issue.

Posted by: Joe | Sep 25, 2017 1:27:45 PM

How can anyone sane say, property crime is down, when not counting 15 million internet crimes, each netting an average of $5000?

I do not believe that even property crime has dropped. The police is tossing reportsin the trash to avoid getting yelled at for doing nothing about rampant criminality.

Only the the household crime victimization survey has any scientific validity. And that validity was destroyed by the Obama DOJ, seeking to cover up the rampant criminality of their black thug supporters.

Posted by: David Behar | Sep 25, 2017 10:02:08 PM

I've had my wallet stolen on two different occasions,. But I'd take five of those, or even ten or twenty, over a violent crime any day.

In other words, yes, property crime impacts more people, but violent crime impacts its victims much more severely.

Posted by: William Jockusch | Sep 26, 2017 1:10:14 AM

William, at certain extremes, violent crimes like murder is obviously is more impacting than property crimes like getting a wallet stolen. But at other extremes, the story is more dynamic: an arson or car theft can impact victims a lot more than an aggravated assault in the form of a bar fight or a robbery in the form of a purse snatching.

Posted by: Doug B. | Sep 26, 2017 10:02:55 AM

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