Statistics released today in the FBI’s Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report indicate that the number of violent crimes reported in the first six months of 2012 increased 1.9 percent when compared with figures from the first six months of 2011. The number of property crimes increased 1.5 percent for the same time frame. The report is based on information from more than 13,300 law enforcement agencies that submitted three to six comparable months of data to the FBI in the first six months of 2011 and 2012.
Two of the four offenses in the violent crime category—murder and non-negligent manslaughter and forcible rape—show decreases when data from the first six months of 2012 are compared with data from the first six months of 2011. The number of murders declined 1.7 percent, and the number of rapes decreased 1.4 percent. However, robbery offenses increased 2.0 percent, and aggravated assault increased 2.3 percent.
Law enforcement agencies in all but one of the six city population groups reported increases in violent crime. Cities with populations of 250,000 to 499,999 showed an increase of 4.7 percent, the largest increase among the city population groups. Cities with less than 10,000 inhabitants experienced the only decline (0.7 percent) in violent crime offenses.
Violent crime increased 0.7 percent in metropolitan counties and 0.6 percent in non-metropolitan counties.
Violent crime increased in each of the nation’s four regions. The largest increase, 3.1 percent, was in the West, followed by 2.5 percent in the Midwest, 1.1 percent in the South, and 1.1 percent in the Northeast.
All three categories of property crime—burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft—showed increases in the number of offenses from January to June 2012 when compared with data for the same months of 2011. Larceny-theft offenses increased 1.9 percent. There was a 1.7 percent increase in the number of motor vehicle thefts and a 0.1 percent increase in burglary offenses.
Each of the six city population groups had increases in the number of property crimes. Law enforcement agencies in cities with populations of 10,000 to 24,999 inhabitants reported the largest increase, 2.9 percent. Property crime in non-metropolitan counties decreased 0.4 percent; property crime in metropolitan counties remained virtually unchanged.
Three of the four regions reported increases in the number of property crime: 4.7 percent in the West, 4.0 percent in the Northeast, and 1.3 percent in the Midwest. Property crime declined 1.4 percent in the South.
In the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, arson offenses are collected separately from other property crimes. The number of arson offenses increased 3.2 percent in the first six months of 2012 when compared with figures from the first six months of 2011. Three of the four regions reported increases in the number of arsons—11.0 percent in the Midwest; 6.4 percent in the West; and 5.7 percent in the Northeast. There was a 5.6 decrease in arson offenses in the South.
Arson offenses increased 19.1 percent in cities with populations of 25,000 to 49,999, the largest increase within the city groupings. Arson offenses decreased 6.0 percent in metropolitan counties and 4.3 percent in non-metropolitan counties.
Caution against ranking: When the FBI publishes crime data via its UCR program, some entities use the information to compile rankings of cities and counties. Such rankings, however, do not provide insight into the numerous variables that shape crime in a given town, city, county, state, tribal area, or region. These rankings lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that can create misleading perceptions that adversely affect communities and their residents. Only through careful study and analyses into the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction can data users create valid assessments of crime. The data user is, therefore, cautioned against comparing statistical data of individual reporting units from cities, metropolitan areas, states, or colleges or universities solely on the basis of their population or student enrollment.