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 rates reached a peak in 1991 with almost 2 million offenses reported, or a rate of 758 crimes per 100,000 people. Most of this drop came from decreases in aggravated assault and robbery in that time.
The FBI releases the latest crime data by city each quarter. While there is not complete data for all cities, the FBI released reported violent crime rates for the first three quarters of 2022 in 188 US cities with populations over 100,000. The largest cities on the list include Houston, Las Vegas, San Antonio, and San Diego.
Memphis, Tennessee, experienced the highest violent crime rate of all the cities included, with 1,720 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in the first three quarters of 2022. Little Rock, Arkansas, and Detroit, Michigan, had the next highest at just over 1,400 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 the first three quarters of 2022 in 188 cities in the US with populations over 100,000. The city in the data with the highest property crime was Tacoma, Washington, with 6,261 property crimes per 100,000 residents. Meridian, Idaho, and Carmel, Indiana, were the two cities with the fewest property crimes per resident in 2021.
In 2021, the latest full year for which full-year participation data is available, 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 (two Florida cities have submitted crime data so far in 2022). Additionally, some large cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, did not submit data in 2021, and data for these cities has not been submitted yet in 2022.
For more on crime data, see this USAFacts article on which states have the least and most crime?
Correction: An earlier version of this article showed violent crime rate data from the first two quarters of 2021 without clarifying that the data shown was for a partial year. The information was updated with a clarification and published on Dec. 20, 2022.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the cities with the highest and lowest property crime rates. The information was corrected with updated data and published on Dec. 20, 2022.
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