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FBI: both violent and property crimes dropped again last year

According to the latest data collected through the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program, or UCR, the nationwide downward trend in both violent and property crimes continued last year. The UCR collects information on crimes and arrests from 18,290 municipal, state, federal, tribal and college and university law enforcement agencies, so it gives us an accurate look at the true level of crime in the U.S.

In 2012, the number of violent crimes dropped by 0.7 percent, while theft and other property crimes declined by 0.9 percent. When adjusted for population growth, however, the property crime rate actually dropped by 1.6 percent, while the violent crime rate remained essentially the same as in 2011. On the whole, all crime was down nationwide for the tenth straight year.

Property crimes are defined by the FBI as burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson, although limited data was available on the arson rate. Violent crimes are categorized as non-negligent homicide and manslaughter, forcible rape, aggravated assault and robbery.

Nationwide last year, an estimated total of 8,975,438 were reported. The burglary rate dropped substantially -- 3.7 percent -- from the 2011 level. Larceny and theft remained about the same, and car thefts increased slightly. Interestingly, more than 90 percent of burglary reports resulted in arrests, while only about 22 percent of car thefts did. With limited information, the arrest rate for arson was only 3.7 percent.

The FBI estimates that 1,214,462 violent crimes occurred last year, with murder, non-negligent homicide and aggravated assault increasing by 1.1 percent each without adjusting for population. Robbery, however, declined by 0.1 percent.

The importance of this data cannot be underestimated. Crime has now been declining for ten years, but we continue to see cries for ever-more-aggressive law enforcement and increases in incarceration -- increases California simply cannot afford, even if it could provide it without violating the constitutional rights of inmates. This information is critical to our ability to make rational decisions about law enforcement and our criminal justice system.

Source: Insurance Journal, “Violent, Property Crimes Decreased in 2012: FBI,” Sept. 16, 2013

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