Success in the Media

Violent and Property Crime in the US–Crime in America



Be sure to see an overview of crime in American cities at

See top 10 factors driving violent crime at

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Leonard A. Sipes, Jr.

Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Graduate-Johns Hopkins University.

This report is broken into three sections: 

  1. An analysis of crime data for recent years
  2. FBI and National Crime Survey data plus links
  3. Additional data from Gallup and other sources offering a national perspective on crime

An Analysis of Crime Data for Recent Years

Three National Measures of Violence

The average person simply wants to know if crime went up or down, but the answer is confusing due to two measures used (victimization surveys via the National Crime Survey and crimes reported to police via the Uniform Crime Report from the FBI), and reports throughout the United States that homicide and violent crime is increasing in some (not all) cities. A variety of data is presented here for your consideration.

Both the National Crime Survey and the Uniform Crime Report are products of two agencies within the US Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The two measures are explained below.

There are an endless number of violent crimes that are not reported (thus the need for the National Crime Survey) because the participants see the event as a private matter, or not serious enough to report to the police. For example, a friend could hit you with a beer bottle (a violent crime involving a weapon) but you have no intention of reporting it to law enforcement. But if you were contacted by the National Crime Survey, they will ask if you were the victim of an act of violence or if anyone used a weapon or object to attack you.

Forty-seven percent of violent crimes were reported to police, thus the majority of violent crime victims do not want police involvement, or do not see it as being in their best interest to report the incident, or are too afraid to report.

Some simplify the two measures by suggesting that crimes reported to law enforcement through the FBI are a measure of events crime victims deem serious (serious enough to enough to report) versus a measure of all crime (regardless of significance) through the National Crime Survey.  Obviously, this observation does not include fear of reporting crime.

There is, however, a third source for crime information from Gallup (see below) accessing individuals, households, and fear of crime. The data from Gallup is interesting because they indicate that crime is up (at historical highs) based on their unique measurement points. But ninety percent of the crime discussion focuses on the two reports from the Department of Justice.

Crime Politicized

It’s unfortunate that an objective analysis of crime in America has become a political issue with major newspapers and some criminologists insisting that violent crime is not increasing while additional media outlets and criminologists insist that it is. We attempt to offer an objective analysis below.

Record Lows for Crime?

The bottom line is that violent and property crime are still at record lows for the country and, generally speaking, have been decreasing for the last two decades except for recent years via FBI data (2011, 2012 and 2015 as examples). There have been additional increases since 1990-the rate of violent crime in the US increased in 2005 and 2006 (via FBI data) but returned to decreases in 2007.

Data from the National Crime Survey also state that we are at record lows for criminal activity. From 1993 to 2015, the rate of violent crime declined from 79.8 to 18.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older.

Data from Gallup, however, suggests that crime has increased to historical highs. See for a partial explanation of the difference between Gallup and National Crime Survey data.

Is America Entering a New Era of Increasing Violence?

Yes, violent crime (and fear of crime) is increasing throughout the Unites States. We predicted the increase for 2015 based on crimes reported to police, and we predict another increase in 2016. According to FBI data, it’s rare for the rate of violent crime to increase for one year only. See additional data from Gallup (below).

National Crime Survey-Violent Crime Rates Flat

Our claim that crime is increasing is tempered, however, by data from the National Crime Survey stating that violent crime rates remain flat in 2015 while property crime rates decreased.

Per the National Crime Survey for 2015, raw numbers of violent crime decreased from 5,359,570 to 5,006,620. Serious stranger violence raw numbers decreased from 930,690 to 690,550.

But the news from the National Crime Survey is moderated by the fact that violent and property crime decreased both in 2014 and 3013, thus violent crime rates being flat indicates the possibility of future increases. Something similar happened with a different measure, crimes reported to police per the FBI.

FBI Releases 2015- Violent Crime Up

After two years of decline (reported crime was mostly flat in 2014 with a slight decrease) the estimated number of violent crimes in the nation increased 3.9 percent in 2015 when compared with 2014 data, according to FBI figures. Property crimes dropped 2.6 percent, marking the thirteenth straight year the collective estimates for these offenses declined.

The 2015 statistics show the estimated rate of violent crime was 372.6 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, and the property crime rate was 2,487.0 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants. The violent crime rate rose 3.1 percent compared with the 2014 rate, and the property crime rate declined 3.4 percent.

In 2015, there were an estimated 1,197,704 violent crimes. Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter increased 10.8 percent when compared with estimates from 2014. Rape (legacy definition) and aggravated assault increased 6.3 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively, while robbery increased 1.4 percent.

Nationwide, there were an estimated 7,993,631 property crimes. The estimated numbers for two of the three property crimes show declines when compared with the previous year’s estimates. Burglaries dropped 7.8 percent, larceny-thefts declined 1.8 percent, but motor vehicle thefts rose 3.1 percent.

Collectively, victims of property crimes (excluding arson) suffered losses estimated at $14.3 billion in 2015.

The FBI estimated that law enforcement agencies nationwide made 10.8 million arrests, excluding traffic violations, in 2015.

Beyond The 2015 FBI Data and National Crime Survey Numbers-Some Significant Reports on Homicides and Violent Crime

Murder 2016: Rise Continues

Last year’s dramatic rise in the national murder total appears to be continuing in 2016, but this year’s rise so far is slower than last year’s and is more concentrated in a few big cities, crime analyst Jeff Asher writes on Last month, the FBI released data showing that the estimated number of murders rose 10.8 percent nationwide last year. Preliminary evidence suggests that the number of murders is up about 10.5 percent so far this year in big cities for which data is available; last year, the number went up 14.7 percent in that same group of cities, Asher says.

So far, the 2016 increase appears concentrated in just a few big cities. Chicago, in particular, has reported a dramatic rise in the number of murders; through early October, the city counted 536, up from 378 at the same time a year ago, a 42 percent increase. Orlando has also seen a big jump in murders, due largely to the Pulse nightclub attack that killed 49 people in June. Together, Chicago and Orlando account for close to half of the net increase in murders in cities for which data is available. Excluding those two cities, murder would be up 6.3 percent this year in the remaining big cities in Asher’s data set. Meanwhile, several cities, including Milwaukee, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, have seen substantial decreases in the number of murders so far this year after experiencing large rises in 2015. Seven of the 15 cities that saw the greatest rise in the number of murders in 2016 are in the Southwest. That’s a big switch from a year ago, when the worst big-city rises were spread relatively evenly across the U.S.

U.S. Murder Total Rose at Fastest Pace Since 1990

Murder totals rose across the U.S. last year at the fastest pace since 1990, according to data released by the FBI yesterday. There were an estimated 15,696 murders in 2015, 1,532 more than in 2014 and the most recorded in a calendar year since 2008, reports FiveThirtyEight. The report provides the first reliable, nationwide figures on an issue that has emerged as a major topic in this year’s presidential campaign. The rate of other forms of crime, including violent crime, remained near the historic lows achieved in 2013.

The increase in murder was remarkably widespread. Of the 82 cities with populations over 250,000 in 2014 or 2015, 52 experienced a rise in murder last year; murder fell in only 26. (Four cities stayed the same.) Murder rose by double digits in 29 big cities last year while dropping by double digits in just four of them. Three cities (Indianapolis, Louisville, and Omaha) more murders in 2015 than in any of the last 40 years. Murder rose in cities run by both political parties. Murder rose in 63 percent of the big cities with a Democratic mayor (33 of 52) and 85 percent of those led by a Republican (17 of 20); the two sets of cities saw murders rise at roughly the same pace. The increase pushed the murder rate — the number of killings per 100,000 people — up to 4.9, from 4.4 in 2014. That came after nearly two decades of continuous decline in the national murder rate; 2014’s murder rate was the lowest since the FBI began keeping the statistic in 1960. FiveThirtyEight

Homicides-56 Cities

According to recent US Department of Justice funded data measuring murders in 56 cities, “…the homicide rise in 2015 in the nation’s large cities was real and, while not unprecedented, comparatively large. The average homicide increase over 2014 in the top ten was 33.3 percent, compared with a 16.8-percent rise for the sample as a whole.”

“One-year increases of this magnitude in the nation’s large cities, although not unknown, are very rare.”

Our note: Generally speaking, homicides and violent crime trendlines match over time.

Source: Documenting and Explaining the 2015 Homicide Rise: Research Directions-

Homicides-29 Cities

The murder total in 29 large U.S. cities rose during the first six months of the year, says the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Wall Street Journal reports. Homicides jumped 15 percent in the 51 large cities that submitted crime data, compared with the same year-ago period. More than half that increase was driven by spikes in two cities: Chicago, which has struggled with rising gang violence, and Orlando, where Omar Mateen fatally shot 49 people at a nightclub. A continuing increase in some cities worries officials who had been hoping last year’s surge was an aberration in the decades-long decline in the murder rate. After peaking in the early 1990s, rates of reported violent crime have been at their lowest levels in four decades, according to FBI data. Wall Street Journal

Homicides-25 Cities

Murder totals rose significantly in 25 of the nation’s 100 largest cities last year, says a New York Times analysis of new data compiled from police departments. The findings confirm a trend reported in a National Institute of Justice study. “The homicide increase in the nation’s large cities was real and nearly unprecedented,” wrote criminologist Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri-St. Louis who looked at homicide data in 56 large cities.

The Times said half of the increase came from just seven cities: Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Milwaukee, Nashville, and Washington, D.C. Chicago had the most homicides — 488 in 2015 — far more than the 352 in New York City, which has three times as many people. Baltimore had the largest increase — 133 more than 2014 — and the second-highest rate in 2015, after St. Louis, which had 59 homicides per 100,000 residents. The number of cities where totals rose significantly was the largest since the height of violent crime in the early 1990s. New York Times

Forecast: Murder Up 13.1%, Violent Crime Up 5.5% This Year

The national murder total may rise 13.1 percent this year, estimates the Brennan Center of Justice, based on a survey of 30 big cities. Half of the increase will be due to the spike in Chicago alone, the Washington Post reports. Half of the 31.5 percent increase in murders between 2014 and 2016 is solely a function of increases in Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. Crime overall is expected to remain flat, the center says. Violent crime is projected to rise by 5.5 percent, with half of the increase driven by Chicago (up 16 percent) and Los Angeles (up 17 percent). The Washington Post

Homicides as an Indicator

Note that homicides are used by criminologists and criminal justice professionals as an indicator of overall violent crime, and crime in general. Generally speaking, crime rises and falls collectively. Based on historical FBI data, if homicides increase, it’s probable that violent crime (and all crime) will increase over time.

The Increase in 2015 Was Predictable

Violent crime (based on crime reported to law enforcement) increased for 2015 which was very predictable. There were media reports in multiple cities in 2015 that homicides and violent crime were increasing.

Those media reports of increases in many (not all) cities continue for 2016.

A Similarity Between The Two Reports?

Aggravated assault and rapes increased in 2014 (crime reported to police) while overall violent crime remained flat (tiny decrease) compared to 2013. The FBI states that the decrease in violent crime went from 4.6 percent in the first six months of 2014 to 1.2 percent for all of 2014. It led some (including this site) to suggest that violent crime was increasing.

The same may be happening regarding the National Crime Survey and flat rates for violent crime in 2015 after two years of decreases. Rapes grew considerably in 2015 per the National Crime Survey while simple assaults were relatively flat.

Yes, It’s Confusing

Decreases in 2014  and 2013 from both national reports (FBI and National Crime Survey) and increases in crime found in National Crime Survey data (for 2011 and 2012) and the 2012 and 2015 FBI reports (violent crime increases) created mixed results and needs to be watched carefully, but the trend over decades is clearly down, while increasing in recent years (per reported crimes).

Criminologists and criminal justice specialists were puzzled by the continuing decreases  in crime in the past and offered little in terms of an explanation, but some are now expressing concern regarding full FBI data in 2014 and 2015.

We predict that violent crime will continue to increase throughout 2016 based on crime reported to police. We would not be surprised to see an increase in rates of violent crime for the National Crime Survey for 2016 based on the historical data offered.

Fear of Crime

We note that Americans’ level of concern about crime and violence is at its highest point in 15 years, says a new Gallup survey. Fifty-three percent of U.S. adults say they personally worry “a great deal” about crime and violence, an increase of 14 percentage points since 2014. Gallup said the figure is the highest the firm has measured since March 2001. Link below.

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FBI and National Crime Survey Data Plus Links

National Crime Headlines: FBI-Crimes Reported to Police

  • Violent crime increased in 2015 (As predicted by this site)
  • Violent and property crime decreased in 2013 and 2014
  • Aggravated assault and rape increased in 2014
  • Lowest murder rate since 1960 but violent crime increased in 2012

National Crime Headlines: National Crime Survey:

  • Violent crime flat for 2015
  • Violent and property crime decline in 2014
  • Violent and property crime decline in 2013
  • The violent crime rate had declined for nearly two decades before increasing in 2011 and 2012

FBI-Crimes Reported to Police-Summary of Recent Years

After 2 years of decline, the estimated number of violent crimes in the nation increased 3.9 percent in all of 2015 (full report) when compared with 2014 data, according to FBI figures. Property crimes dropped 2.6 percent, marking the thirteenth straight year the collective estimates for these offenses declined.

The violent crime rate rose 3.1 percent compared with the 2014 rate, and the property crime rate declined 3.4 percent.

The FBI reported that all of the offenses in the violent crime category—murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape (revised definition), rape (legacy definition), aggravated assault, and robbery—showed increases when data from the first six months of 2015 were compared with data from the first six months of 2014. The number of rapes (legacy definition) increased 9.6 percent, the number of murders increased 6.2 percent, aggravated assaults increased 2.3 percent, the number of rapes (revised definition) rose 1.1 percent, and robbery offenses were up 0.3 percent.

The FBI reports preliminary figures indicating that law enforcement agencies throughout the nation showed an overall decrease of 4.6 percent in the number of violent crimes for the first 6 months of 2014 when compared with figures reported for the same time in 2013. The violent crime category includes murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. The number of property crimes in the United States from January to June of 2014 decreased 7.5 percent when compared with data for the same time period in 2013.

However, when the FBI released their full report for 2014, the estimated number of violent crimes in the nation decreased 0.2 percent in 2014 when compared with 2013 data. Aggravated assault and rapes increased. Property crimes decreased by 4.3 percent, marking the 12th straight year the collective estimates for these offenses declined. Based on the full report in 2014, and with endless news reports documenting increases in homicide and violence in cities throughout the country, we predicted an increase in violent crime for 2015. See

The FBI released Crime in the United States, 2013, which shows that the estimated number of violent crimes in 2013 decreased 4.4 percent when compared with 2012 figures, and the estimated number of property crimes decreased 4.1 percent. There were an estimated 1,163,146 violent crimes reported to law enforcement last year, along with an estimated 8,632,512 property crimes. Property crimes decreased 4.1 percent in 2013, marking the 11th straight year the collective estimates for these offenses declined.

The 2013 statistics show the estimated rate of violent crime was 367.9 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, and the property crime rate was 2,730.7 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants. The violent crime rate declined 5.1 percent compared to the 2012 rate, while the property crime rate declined 4.8 percent.

2012-The FBI estimated that in 2012 the number of violent crimes increased 0.7 percent. However, property crimes decreased 0.9 percent, marking the tenth straight year of declines for these offenses, collectively.

The rate for homicide remained at historic lows, 4.7 percent per 100,000 in 2012.

National Crime Survey-Summary of Recent Years

From 2014 to 2015, there was no statistically significant change in the overall rate of violent crime (rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault), per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

The rate of violent victimization was 18.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older in 2015, which was significantly lower than the rate in 1993 (79.8 per 1,000), the oldest year of data currently available from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).

Violent crime rates decreased from 2013 (23.2 victimizations per 1,000) to 20.1 per 1,000 in 2014.

1993 to 2014, the rate of violent crime declined from 79.8 to 20.1 per 1,000.

The overall property crime rate (which includes household burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft) decreased from 131.4 victimizations per 1,000 households in 2013 to 118.1 victimizations per 1,000 in 2014.

In 2013, the overall violent crime rate declined slightly from 26.1 to 23.2 victimizations per 1,000 U.S. residents from 2012 to 2013, per the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). The violent crime rate had declined for nearly two decades before increasing in 2011 and 2012.

The overall property crime rate, which includes burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft, also decreased after two consecutive years of increases. From 2012 to 2013, the rate declined from 155.8 to 131.4 victimizations per 1,000 U.S. households.

In 2012, for the second consecutive year, violent and property crime rates increased. The overall violent crime rate (which includes rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated and simple assault) rose from 22.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons in 2011 to 26.1 in 2012

The latest data involving crimes reported to law enforcement agencies (through the FBI) includes

For the latest data from the National Crime Survey, see

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Gallup and Additional Data Offering a National Perspective on Crime

Per Gallup (November, 2016) Americans’ direct experience with crime is at a 16-year high, consistent with a gradual increase — from 22% in 2001 to 29% today — in the percentage saying that they or a household member was the victim of a robbery, vandalism or violent crime in the past year, see Gallup-Crime.

Per Gallup-household crime is at its highest point since 2001.

This is after Gallup offered another report on, “In U.S., Concern About Crime Climbs to a 15-Year High,” see Gallup-Concern.

Gallup previously stated that if cyber crimes were included, the household victimization rate would surge to 46% (November, 2014). If half of American households state that they are victims of crime, then there is little wonder about fear of crime.

But crime counts are moderated by the finding that personal crime (rather than household crime) is down, Overall, 16% of U.S. adults say that they were personally the victim of at least one crime in the past year, similar to the 17% found in 2015 and about the middle of the 14% to 19% range seen since 2001, see Gallup-Crime.

The index does not include two types of digital crimes that Gallup began measuring more recently — experiencing identity theft and having credit card information stolen. More Americans tend to report being victimized by these than by most conventional crimes. As Gallup reported last month, 27% of Americans say that they or someone in their household had information from a credit card stolen by computer hackers.

For an overview of declining crime over the last 20 years, see

For an overview of the FBI’s new National Incident-Based Reporting System, see

From a 2013 Department of Justice report on repeat victimization

In 2010, the 17 percent of violent crime victims who experienced repeat victimization accounted for 54 percent of all violent victimizations.

For serious violent crimes, the victimization rate decreased 77 percent from 1993 to 2010, while the prevalence rate decreased 66 percent.

The decline in total household property crime victimization rates (down 64 percent) from 1993 to 2010 was greater than the decline in prevalence rates (down 48 percent).

The proportion of household property crime victims who reported two or more incidents during each year decreased from 25 percent in 1993 to 18 percent in 2010. In 2010, the 18 percent of repeat household victims accounted for about 41 percent of all household property victimizations.

Source for Articles

We rely on “The Crime Report” for many of the articles included here, see

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