Crime rates stayed constant from 2020 to 2021, according to new estimations from the FBI and Bureau of Justice Statistics. However, national crime data remains incomplete with about 37% of law enforcement agencies not reporting data last year.
In 2020, the FBI switched data collection methods from the Uniform Crime Reporting database to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). The NIBRS system requires agencies to submit more detailed data, which has caused the transition to the new system to be slow. In 2021, about 63% of law enforcement agencies submitted NIBRS data to the FBI.
To compensate for the lower participation rate, the FBI partnered with the Bureau of Justice Statistics to create crime rate estimations for 2021. The agencies used the existing NIBRS data along with the National Victimization Survey to create national crime rate estimates.
The FBI divides violent crime into four categories: homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Aggravated assault and robberies are the two most common crimes in the category, making up almost 90% of all violent crime in the US. Homicides are the least common, making up about 1% of total violent crime.
The FBI report estimated that there were about 1.3 million violent crimes committed in 2021. This is about a 1% decrease from 2020. This drop in violent crime was driven by a 9% decrease in the robbery rate.
The violent crime rate in 2021 was about 396 violent crimes per 100,000 people. This continues the downward trend over the past three decades. Violent crime reached a peak in 1992 with almost 2 million offenses reported, or a rate of 750 crimes per 100,000 people. Most of this drop came from decreases in aggravated assault and robbery in that time.
While there is not complete data for all cities, the FBI released reported violent crime rates for about 150 US cities with populations over 100,000. The largest cities on the list include Las Vegas, San Diego, and Dallas.
Mobile, Alabama, had the highest violent crime rate of all the cities on the list, with 2,042 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. Memphis, Tennessee, and Detroit, Michigan, had the next highest at just over 1,000 crimes per 100,000 residents.
Property crime is much more common than violent crime in the US. Larceny, or theft, is the most common and makes up about 60% of all crime in the data. Like violent crime, property crime hit a peak in the early 1990s but decreased steadily over the past three decades.
In 2021, there were an estimated 1,933 property crimes per 100,000 people, about a 1% decrease compared with 2020. This decrease continues the historic downward trend in property crime.
The FBI published property crime rates for 164 cities in the US with populations over 100,000. The city in the data with the highest property crime was Carlsbad, California, with 11,885 property crimes per 100,000 residents. Bellevue, Washington, and Cary, North Carolina, were the two cities with the least property crime per resident in 2021.
In 2021, about 63% of law enforcement agencies reported data to the FBI, representing about 65% of the nationwide population. The state with the lowest participation rate was Florida, which did not have any law enforcement agencies submit data in 2021. Additionally, some large cities including New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco also did not submit data.
For more on crime data, see this USAFacts article on which states have the least and most crime?
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