FBI Reports Drop in Crime Including Arson

January 12, 2009

The nation experienced a 3.5 percent decline in violent crime and a 2.5 percent decline in property crime for the first six months of 2008, according to the federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Violent crime was down in all regions, while property crime went down in all regions except the Northeast. The number of arsons was down in every region.

The FBI’s Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report is based on data from more than 11,00 law enforcement agencies for January through June of both 2007 and 2008.

Violent Crime

Each of the four violent crimes (murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) experienced a decrease nationwide. Murder declined 4.4 percent, aggravated assault declined 4.1 percent, forcible rape decreased 3.3 percent, and robbery decreased 2.2 percent.

All population groups reported decreases in violent crime for January to June 2008 when compared with data from the same months in 2007. For city population groups, cities with 250,000 to 499,999 inhabitants saw the greatest decline in violent crime (5.2 percent). In non-metropolitan counties, violent crime fell 7.5 percent; in metropolitan counties, violent crime declined 4.1 percent.

Of the city groupings, cities with populations of 500,000 to 999,999 inhabitants posted the largest decrease (11.3 percent) in reported murders. However, cities with less than 10,000 inhabitants posted the largest increase (9.8 percent) in the number of murders.

Most city population groupings reported decreases in the number of forcible rapes; however, cities with 1,000,000 or more inhabitants reported a 3.4 percent increase. The number of rapes reported in metropolitan counties increased 1.0 percent, while the number of rapes in nonmetropolitan counties declined 12.7 percent.

Law enforcement agencies in all four regions of the nation reported declines in the number of violent crimes: 6.0 percent in the Midwest, 5.0 percent in the West, 2.9 percent in the Northeast, and 1.5 percent in the South.

For forcible rape, only law enforcement agencies in the Northeast posted an increase in the number of offenses reported, 0.6 percent. In the South, forcible rape declined 4.7 percent; in the Midwest, 4.2 percent; and in the West, 2.9 percent.

Property Crime

For each property crime offense (burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft), a decrease was reported during the first six months of 2008 when compared with data from the first six months of 2007. The number of motor vehicle thefts decreased 12.6 percent; larceny-thefts, 1.2 percent; and burglaries, 0.8 percent.

Property crimes declined in all population groupings with the largest decline (4.3 percent) recorded in cities with 250,000 to 499,999 inhabitants.

The only region to experience an increase (1.7 percent) in the number of property crimes was the Northeast. Property crimes declined 6.1 percent in the West, 4.7 percent in the Midwest, and 0.4 percent in the South.

By offense, the number of burglaries increased 2.7 percent in the Northeast and 0.6 percent in the South. However, the number of burglaries declined 4.4 percent in the West and 1.0 percent in the Midwest.

Law enforcement agencies in the Northeast and in the South reported increases in the number of larceny-thefts: 2.9 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively. Larceny-thefts in the Midwest declined 4.6 percent and in the West, 3.7 percent.


Nationwide, reported arsons, which are tracked separately from other property crimes, declined 5.6 percent during the first half of 2008 when compared with data from the same time frame in 2007.

Law enforcement agencies in cities with populations of 250,000 to 499,999 were the only population grouping overall to report an increase, 2.0 percent.

Decreases in the number of reported arsons occurred in all regions of the country; the West had the largest decline at 8.7 percent.

Source: FBI

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