5 Surprising Facts About Crime

Many people believe that crime is on the rise, but is this really true? The news often features stories about violent crimes, which can make it seem like crime is increasing everywhere.

However, statistics show that both violent crimes and property crimes are actually declining — and have been for many years. In fact, crime in general has been on the decline for more than two decades. Here’s a look at five important statistics about crime from Pew Research.

Violent Crime Has Decreased for 25 Years

The statistics behind violent crime reveal that the United States has become increasingly safer over the years. Violent crime reached its peak in the early 1990s, but it has declined sharply since that time. Data from the FBI, which releases yearly reports about crime, shows that violent crimes decreased by 49 percent between 1993 and 2017.

Data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) shows an even sharper decrease. Between 1993 and 2017, the BJS states that violent crimes fell by 74 percent. The difference in numbers between the FBI and BJS might be explained by the different data gathering methods the two agencies use. To gather data for its report, the FBI looks at police reports from jurisdictions across 18,000 cities in the United States. By contrast, the BJS surveys individuals about whether they have been a victim of a violent crime.

Property Crimes Have Dropped by 50 Percent

In addition to the sharp decrease in violent crimes, property crimes have also gone down. According to statistics from the FBI, property crimes fell by 50 percent between 1993 and 2017. The BJS reports that property crimes decreased by nearly 70 percent in the same period.

For purposes of the two reports from the FBI and the BJS, property crimes include burglary, theft, and auto theft. The agencies also report that property crimes happen more often than violent crimes.

People Mistakenly Believe That Crime Is Increasing

In an interconnected world where you can get instant news on your phone, it’s easy to understand why many people believe that crime is on the rise. Many news organizations pick up stories about violent crimes and property theft, which can make it seem like crime is increasing all over the country.

However, statistics show that this simply isn’t the case. Nevertheless, public perception insists that crime rates are going up year after year. In 18 out of 22 surveys conducted by Gallup over a span of several years, six out of 10 people said there is more crime in the country compared to the previous year.

When Pew Research conducted a similar survey in 2016, they found that 57 percent of people they spoke to believed that crime had increased since 2008, despite data from both the FBI and BJS revealing that violent crimes and property crimes had fallen by double digits.

Crime Rates Vary Depending on Where You Live

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that crime rates fluctuate depending on which geographical area you’re looking at within the United States. According to data from the FBI, some states have much higher crime rates than others. For example, there were over 600 violent crimes committed per 100,000 people in Alaska, New Mexico and Tennessee. However, the number of violent crimes was just 200 violent crimes per 100,000 people in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.    

According to the FBI, some of the discrepancies can be explained by population density and economic factors. For example, some of the states with low crime rates are more sparsely populated than states with higher rates of crime.

Additionally, some of the states with lower rates don’t have the same number of large, metropolitan areas as states with higher crime rates. Because cities tend to have higher rates of crime due to larger populations, states that are home to many large cities will almost always have higher crime rates than rural states or states with low population density.

Most Crimes Go Unreported

Statistics show that a significant number of crimes go unreported, and many never get solved. According to the BJS, just 45 percent of violent crimes in 2017 ended up reported to the police.

For property crimes, just 36 percent were reported to the police. When the BJS asked survey respondents why they didn’t report crimes, some of the reasons included people feeling like the police couldn’t help and the feeling that the crime wasn’t serious enough to merit reporting it.

In addition to a large number of crimes going unreported, the FBI says that many crimes remain unsolved. When the FBI examined its clearance rate, which means the number of crimes that resulted in an arrest or prosecution, it found a clearance rate of 46 percent for violent crimes. The FBI’s clearance rate for property crimes was 18 percent.

If you have been charged with a violent crime or property crime, you will need the expertise of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Call the Law Office of John Helms in Dallas today.


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Attorney John Helms

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