Today, the FBI released its Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, which covers January through June 2016 and which shows an increase in the number of violent crimes and a decrease in the number of property crimes when compared to figures from the same time period in 2015.
The report is based on information from 13,366 law enforcement agencies that submitted three to six months of comparable data to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program for the first six months of 2015 and 2016.
According to the report, violent crime in the U.S. showed an overall increase of 5.3 percent.
Each of the offenses in the violent crime category—murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery—experienced increases: aggravated assaults were up 6.5 percent; murders increased 5.2 percent; rapes (legacy definition) were up 4.4 percent and rapes (revised definition) increased 3.5 percent; and robberies were up 3.2 percent.
- All of the offenses in the violent crime category—murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape (revised definition), rape (legacy definition), aggravated assault, and robbery—showed increases when data from the first six months of 2016 were compared with data from the first six months of 2015.
- The number of aggravated assaults increased 6.5 percent, murders increased 5.2 percent, rapes (legacy definition) increased 4.4 percent, rapes (revised definition) rose 3.5 percent, and robbery offenses were up 3.2 percent.
- Violent crime increased in all city groupings. Among cities, violent crime rose the most over the previous year (9.7 percent) in those with populations of 1,000,000 and over. In cities with populations from 500,000 to 999,999, violent crime increased 5.2 percent, and in cities with 250,000 to 499,999 inhabitants, violent crime was up 4.3 percent.
- Violent crime increased 6.3 percent in metropolitan counties and rose 1.6 percent in nonmetropolitan counties.
- Violent crime increased in all four regions of the nation. These crimes were up 6.4 percent in the West, 5.9 percent in both the Midwest and in the South, and 1.2 percent in the Northeast.
While property crime as a whole was down 0.6 percent (burglaries decreased 3.4 percent and larceny-thefts were down 0.8 percent), motor vehicle thefts increased by 6.6 percent.
- In the property crime category, offenses dropped 0.6 percent. Burglaries were down 3.4 percent, and larceny-thefts declined 0.8 percent. However, motor vehicle thefts increased 6.6 percent.
- Among the city population groups, there were both increases and decreases in the overall number of property crimes. Law enforcement agencies in cities with 1,000,000 and over populations reported the largest increase, 2.1 percent. Law enforcement agencies in cities with populations under 10,000 inhabitants reported the largest decrease, 3.5 percent.
- Property crime decreased 3.9 percent in nonmetropolitan counties and 1.5 percent in metropolitan counties.
- The West was the only region to show an increase (0.8 percent) in property crime. Reports of these offenses declined 2.4 percent in the Northeast, 1.3 percent in the Midwest, and 0.9 percent in the South.
In the UCR Program, arson offenses are collected separately from other property crimes.
The number of arson offenses decreased 1.1 percent in the first six months of 2016 when compared with figures for the first six months of 2015.
Two of the nation’s four regions reported decreases in the number of arsons. Arsons were down 5.1 percent in the West and 1.3 percent in the Midwest.
However, arson offenses rose 5.0 percent in the Northeast and 1.2 percent in the South.
Arson offenses were down 6.6 percent in cities with populations 10,000 to 24,999, the largest decrease within the city groupings.
The city grouping to experience the greatest increase was in those cities with populations 1,000,000 and over, where arson offenses rose 5.3 percent.
Arsons decreased 3.1 percent in nonmetropolitan counties and 0.3 percent in metropolitan counties.
Revised Definition of Rape
In 2013, the FBI’s UCR Program initiated the collection of rape data under a revised definition within the Summary Based Reporting System.
The term “forcible” was removed from the offense name, and the definition was changed to “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
The number of rape incidents reported using the revised definition, as well as the number of rapes submitted using the legacy definition, are both included in this report in separate columns in each table.
The rape figures for those agencies that changed from reporting rape under the legacy definition in 2015 to the revised definition in 2016 are not included in the trend calculations for Tables 1-3, but they are included in Table 4.
Please note: Rape data reported for 2015 and 2016 cannot be aggregated by all agencies. Instead, two distinct groups of agencies (those reporting using the legacy definition and those reporting using the revised definition) are used for calculating trends.
Therefore, the percent changes from one year to the next within each group are calculated with fewer agencies than in recent years. Users should be aware that offenses with fewer incidents are often sensitive to marginal increases/decreases when calculating trends.
More information about this subject is presented in footnotes and data declarations for each table.
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.
This preliminary report features several tables which detail the percent change in offenses reported to law enforcement by population group, by region of the country, and by consecutive years back to 2012.
It also contains a table showing the number of offenses reported to law enforcement, by state, in cities with populations of more than 100,000.
The full Crime in the United States 2016 report will be released later this year.