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In 2022, New Mexico recorded the nation’s highest violent crime rate, while Washington had the highest property crime rate. Maine had the lowest violent crime rate, and Idaho held the lowest property crime rate.

The US crime rate has trended downward for decades, and recent data confirms this pattern. However, while the national violent crime rate decreased by 1.6% in 2022 compared to 2021, the property crime rate rose by 6.7%. Rates vary by region due to factors including urbanization levels, economic conditions, and law enforcement effectiveness.

What are violent and property crimes?

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program classifies violent crimes as those involving force or the threat of force. Violent crime encompasses four specific offenses: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

The UCR Program defines property crime as taking money or property without force or threat against the victims. Property crime includes burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft. Arson is also categorized as a property crime due to its nature of property destruction, although it may involve force against victims. However, the FBI does not include arson as a property crime through its National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), so this article does not include arson under aggregated property crimes.

States with the highest and lowest crime rates

New Mexico had the highest violent crime rate of any state at 780.5 incidences per 100,000 residents, followed by Alaska (758.9), Arkansas (645.3), Louisiana (628.6), and Tennessee (621.6). The lowest-ranked states for violent crimes were Maine (103.3), New Hampshire (125.6), Connecticut (150.0), Rhode Island (172.3), and Wyoming (201.9).

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That same year, Washington had the highest property crime rate at 3,356.4 crimes per 100,000 residents, followed by Colorado (3,147.6), New Mexico (2,984.0), Oregon (2,935.3), and Louisiana (2,748.2).  The lowest property crime rates were in Idaho (926.9), New Hampshire (1,010.9), Massachusetts (1,070.1), Maine (1,213.5), and West Virginia (1,230.1).

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Various factors influence the variations in crime rates across states and regions. The FBI identifies several key elements that affect both the amount and type of crime, including:

  • Population density and urbanization levels
  • Youth population percentage
  • Population stability, including mobility and commuting
  • Transportation systems and infrastructure
  • Economic factors like median income, poverty, and jobs
  • Cultural, educational, and religious influences
  • Family dynamics, including divorce rates and unity
  • Climate
  • Law enforcement strength
  • Law enforcement strategies and focus
  • Criminal justice system policies (prosecution, judiciary, corrections, probation)
  • Public attitudes toward crime
  • Crime reporting habits
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Although Washington, DC, had higher crime rates than every state, comparing its rates to other cities is more fitting. (For more information about crime rates by city, read Which cities have the highest or lowest crime rates?)

Which regions have the lowest and highest crime rates?

Northeastern states have the lowest crime rates among regions.[1] Its property crime rate was 27.6% lower than in the rest of the country; the violent crime rate was 23.0% lower.

In 2022, three of the states with the lowest property crime rates and four with the lowest violent crime rates were in the Northeast. New Hampshire, Maine, and Rhode Island were among the states with the lowest property and violent crime rates.

Crime rates were highest in the West; the region’s property crime rate was 36.7% higher than the rest of the country, and the violent crime rate was 27.1% higher.

The highest property crime rates were in Washington, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oregon, while New Mexico and Alaska recorded the highest violent crime rates.

How have crime rates changed over time?

In 2022, crime rates were 58.0% lower than in 1979. The nation’s crime rate began consistently declining in the early 1990s and fell yearly between 2001 and 2021.

Both property and violent crime rates reflect this long-term trend of decreasing crime. Property crime was down 61.0% since 1979, and violent crime was down 30.6%.

Over 70% percent of violent crimes in 2022 were aggravated assaults, followed by robbery (17.4%), rape (10.5%), and homicide (1.7%). Overall, the violent crime rate fell 1.6% between 2021 and 2022, primarily because of lower rates of aggravated assault (the majority of violent crime since 1982).

Larceny — the theft of personal property — made up 71.7% of property crimes included in FBI data, up from 59.8% of crimes in 1979; the remaining crimes were motor vehicle theft (14.5%) and burglary (13.8%).

Property crime rates had an annual increase of 6.7% in 2022, attributable to a 10.5% rise in motor vehicle thefts (part of a trend since 2019), and a 7.4% increase in larceny since 2021.

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Where have property crime rates changed?

Every state’s property crime rate was lower in 2022 than in 1991. The property crime rate declined by more than 75% in Florida, Massachusetts, and Idaho. North Dakota’s property crime rate had the smallest decrease, at 26.9%.

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From 2021 to 2022, the property crime rate declined in 23 states and Washington, DC. In fact, Washington, DC’s property crime rate fell the most at 13.9%, followed by Iowa at 11.7%. New York’s property crime rate increased the most: 64.3%.

Where have violent crime rates changed?

Violent crime rates decreased between 1991 and 2022 in 40 states and Washington, DC. It declined by over 70% in Connecticut, Illinois, and Florida.

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 North Dakota that the state’s 2022 violent crime rate was more than four times higher than in 1991.

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Between 2021 and 2022, violent crime decreased in 35 states and Washington, DC. The greatest annual increases were in New York (39.2%), Alabama (17.4%), and Vermont (14.4%), while the largest decreases in violent crime rates occurred in Florida (23.3), Kentucky (20.4%), and Illinois (16.7%).

Where does this data come from?

The FBI is the main government source of US crime data. 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 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 2022.

Unlike the SRS, the NIBRS collects data on single incidents instead of aggregated summaries of crimes. This allows the data to capture more specific crime information.

Law enforcement agencies are still transitioning to the new system. As of May 2023, agencies that reported to NIBRS covered 77% of the US population.

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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. This article uses data from the NIBRS and the SRS to shed light on the most recent geographic trends in crime data and the trends over time.

It should be noted that the estimates used in this article were calculated by the FBI using NIBRS data for recent years to replicate the estimation methodology previously applied to SRS data. This helps to make the estimates comparable over time despite the transition between reporting systems, although relatively lower reporting rates during the transition to NIBRS may still impact the accuracy of recent estimates. Therefore, despite these gaps in reporting agencies by state, the data provided throughout this piece can still be used to approximate crime rate trends over time.

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The Transition to the NIBRS: A Comparison of 2020 and 2021 NIBRS Estimates
Last updated
Summary Reporting System (SRS)
Last updated
September 10, 2021

As defined by the Census Bureau