FBI: Violent, property crime numbers fell in first half of 2010
The nation experienced a 6.2 percent decrease in the number of violent crimes and a 2.8 percent decline in the number of property crimes from January to June 2010, when compared with data from the same time period in the prior year, according to FBI statistics released Dec. 20.
The FBI’s Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report is based on information from more than 12,000 law enforcement agencies that submitted three to six comparable months of data to the FBI during the first six months of both 2009 and 2010.
The data showed that the number of violent and property crimes reported continued to drop this year despite significant declines in the nation’s economy — surprising some experts who historically have seen crime increase during difficult economic periods. While the FBI report does not list a reason for the decline, many experts have attributed it to an aging population and increases in law enforcement funding.
According to the report, from January to June 2010, all four of the offense types in the violent crime category declined nationwide when compared with data for the same time period in 2009. Robbery fell 10.7 percent, murder was down 7.1 percent, forcible rape declined 6.2 percent, and aggravated assault decreased 3.9 percent.
Violent crime declined in all city groups, with the largest decrease, 8.3 percent, in cities with populations of 500,000 to 999,999 people. Violent crime also was down in both nonmetropolitan and metropolitan counties, with declines of 7.6 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively.
For the six-month comparison period, violent crime fell in all four regions of the nation: 7.8 percent in the South, 7.2 percent in both the Midwest and the West, and 0.2 percent in the Northeast. The Northeast was the only region to experience an increase in murders, 5.7 percent. Murder declined in the other three regions — 12.0 percent in the South, 7.1 percent in the West and 6.3 percent in the Midwest.
The report said property crime was down 2.8 percent nationwide for the first six months of 2010 compared with data for the same months of 2009. Motorvehicle theft dropped 9.7 percent, larceny theft fell 2.3 percent, and burglary decreased 1.4 percent.
Property crime declined in all four regions, with a 3.6 percent decrease in the South, a 3.1 percent decrease in the West, a 2.5 decrease in the Midwest, and a 0.2 percent decrease in the Northeast.
Cities with 500,000 to 999,999 inhabitants exper ienced a 4.8 percent drop in property crime. In nonmetropolitan counties, proper ty crime increased 1.0 percent, but it decreased 2.4 percent in metropolitan counties.
Arson offenses, which are tracked separately from other property crimes, decreased 14.6 percent nationwide. By population group, the largest decline in the number of arson offenses (19 percent) was in the nation’s largest cities, those with populations of 1 million residents or more. Arson also fell in metropolitan counties by 21.6 percent and in nonmetropolitan counties by 19.4 percent.
Law enforcement agencies in all four regions reported fewer arsons, including declines of 17.6 percent in the West, 14.3 percent in the South, 12.6 percent in the Midwest, and 10.2 percent in the Northeast.
When the FBI publishes crime data in its Unifor m Crime Reports throughout the year, it warns against using the figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. It said the rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, tribal area or region.
Consequently, the FBI said, they lead to simplistic or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents. Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction, the bureau said.