The crime rate in the US has trended downward for decades, and the latest data is no different. In 2021, the violent crime rate for the nation was 1.7% lower than in 2020, and the property crime rate was down 4.5%. Despite the overall decrease in violent crime, the homicide rate rose again in 2021 after a historic increase the year prior. And while crime is down over time nationally, the reality can be different at the state level.
See the five states with the highest and lowest property and violent crime rates below, and keep reading for more detail about what crime looks like for all 50 states.
Here are the states with the highest and lowest property crime rates in 2021.
|Highest rates||State||Property crime rate|
|Lowest rates||State||Property crime rate|
Here are the states with the highest and lowest violent crime rates in 2021.
|Highest rates||State||Violent crime rate|
|Lowest rates||State||Violent crime rate|
It’s important to note that 2021 crime data cannot be directly compared to data from before 2020 due to a switch in the FBI’s data collection systems (more on this later). This article’s analysis of how crime rates have changed over time in different states is limited to the historical data, allowing for comparisons between 2020 and previous years.
Additionally, the state-level crime rate maps below use data from the new collection system and display only crime rates for 2020 and 2021. The chart at the end of the article showing crime rates over time uses dotted lines to show 2020 and 2021 data that was collected through the new system.
Northeastern states have the lowest crime rates among states for which data is available. The region’s property crime rate was 56% lower than in the rest of the country; the violent crime rate was 62% lower.
In 2021, three states with the lowest property crime rates and all five states with the lowest violent crime rates were in the Northeast. Both New Hampshire and New York were among the states with the lowest rates for both property and violent crime.
Crime rates were highest in the South and West. Property crime was highest in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon.
Colorado had 2021’s highest property crime rate, at 3,135 crimes per 100,000 residents. Washington closely followed, with a property crime rate of 3,134 crimes per 100,000. New York had the lowest property crime rate according to FBI data, at 710 crimes per 100,000 residents.
Arkansas had the highest violent crime rate, at 709 crimes per 100,000 residents. This was 5% higher than Tennessee, the state with the next-highest violent crime rate. (Arkansas and Louisiana were in the top five for both violent and property crime.) New York had the lowest violent crime rate, at 102 per 100,000 residents.
Although Washington, DC, had higher crime rates than every state, it’s more fitting to compare its rates to other cities. (For more information about crime rates by city, read Which cities have the highest or lowest crime rates?)
Since 1991, which marked the beginning of the national decline in crime rates, New Jersey and Florida have had the largest long-term decreases, while North Dakota had the smallest decrease in property crime and the largest increase in violent crime.
Every state’s property crime rate was lower in 2020 than in 1991. The property crime rate declined by more than 75% in Massachusetts, Florida, and New Jersey. North Dakota’s property crime rate had the smallest decrease, at 22%.
From 2019 to 2020, the property crime rate declined in 39 states and Washington, DC. Georgia’s property crime rate declined the most with a 28% decline, while Pennsylvania had the largest increase of 17% in its property crime rate.
Violent crime decreased since 1991 in 39 states and Washington, DC. It declined by more than 60% in New Jersey, New York, Florida, and Connecticut.
Meanwhile, the violent crime rate more than doubled in North Dakota, Montana, and South Dakota. In 1991, these three states had some of the nation’s lowest crime rates. Rates increased so much in Montana and South Dakota that they ranked in the top 12 states for violent crime rate by 2020. North Dakota’s 2020 violent crime rate was more than five times higher than in 1991, ranking last in 1991 and 31st in 2020.
Between 2019 and 2020, violent crime increased in 33 states. It increased by more than 20% in Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Georgia. In Vermont, Maryland, and Alabama, it fell by more than 10%.
Crime in 2020 was 60% lower than in 1980. The nation’s crime rate began consistently declining in the early 1990s and fell every year between 2001 and 2020.
Both property and violent crime rates reflect this long-term trend of decreasing crime. Property crime in 2020 was down 63% since 1980, and violent crime was down 33%.
Larceny makes up about 80% of property crimes, with burglary, motor vehicle theft, arson, and other crimes comprising the rest. Sixty-six percent of violent crimes are aggravated assaults. The other 34% includes crimes such as homicide, rape, and robbery.
2021’s lower property crime rate was primarily driven by fewer burglaries and larcenies, though the motor vehicle theft rate increased 12%.
Violent crime decreased primarily because of lower rates of robbery as well as aggravated assault (the main driver of the increased violent crime rate in 2020). However, rape and homicide rates increased.
The FBI is the main government source of data about crime in the US. Since 1929, it has collected crime data from local law enforcement agencies through the Summary Reporting System (SRS). The FBI has used this data to estimate national, regional, and state crime statistics since the 1960s.
The FBI phased out the SRS program in 2021 in favor of the more-comprehensive National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). The latest data available from the SRS is from 2020, while the NIBRS has data through 2021.
Unlike the SRS, the NIBRS collects data on single incidents, instead of aggregated summaries of crimes. This allows the data to capture more specific information about crimes.
Law enforcement agencies are still transitioning to the new system. As of 2021, agencies that reported to NIBRS covered about 65% of the population.
The FBI has always used partial population data to estimate crime outcomes for the entire population, even in areas that do not report. The more agencies that report data to the FBI, the more accurate the estimates are. The relatively low 2020 and 2021 participation rates mean the FBI could not estimate crime data that is comparable to previous years. However, the agency anticipates that it will be able to update the historical crime data with new crime data calculated from the NIBRS as law enforcement agency participation increases.
This article uses data from both the NIBRS and the SRS to shed light on both the most recent geographic trends in crime data and the trends over time.
|2021 property crime rate||2021 violent crime rate||2020 property crime rate||2020 violent crime rate|
|District of Columbia||4,109||969|
In the Northeast, statistically reliable data was available from NIBRS for 7 out of 9 states in 2021. By comparison, data was available for 14 of 16 states in the South, 10 of 13 states in the West, and 11 of 12 states in the Midwest.
For full definitions of each type of property crime, see the FBI Crime in the United States page for each property crime under “Browse by Offense”
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