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FBI: Violent Crimes and Property Crimes Down in 2008

By Javier Lavagnino, Esq. on June 01, 2009 10:38 AM

An Unexpected Result?

Here's something to break up the apparent string of bad news seeming to flow forth from the Blotter. The FBI says that both property and violent crime is down across the country for 2008. This marks the second year in a row of dropping crime rates, to boot.

The findings are from the FBI's Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report which tracks statistics submitted voluntarily by law enforcement agencies across the nation. An FBI story provided the following highlights:

  • All four of the violent crime offense categories declined nationwide: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter (down 4.4 percent), aggravated assault (down 3.2 percent), forcible rape (down 2.2 percent), and robbery (down 1.1 percent).
  • While violent crimes like murder, forcible rape, and robberies in cities with one million or more residents decreased, cities with less than 10,000 residents reported increases in those same categories (murder up 5.5 percent, forcible rape up 1.4 percent, robbery up 3.9 percent).

  • Nationwide, burglaries were the only property crime to show an increase (up 1.3 percent), while thefts decreased (down 0.6 percent) as did motor vehicle thefts (down a whopping 13.1 percent!).

  • Arson offenses, tracked separately from other property crimes, declined in all four regions of the country--Northeast, South, Midwest, and West. The largest decrease was in the West (down 5.9 percent).

So what does it all mean? Well, the FBI says it "doesn't interpret the data; we leave the number-crunching and in-depth analysis to criminologists, state and local law enforcement agencies, and other experts." In other words, it's probably best to take the data with a grain of salt and not to draw too many conclusions. Of particular surprise may be the numbers showing a drop in thefts and vehicle thefts, particularly in light of prior reports and suggestions that fraud and theft crimes tend to rise in recessions.

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