Crime—an Overview - The Uniform Crime Reports
cities metropolitan percent crimes
The FBI compiles various sets of crime statistics. In one category the FBI tracks the number of crimes by type as reported by local police. The more serious crime types are included in the Crime Index. A second category tracks cleared offenses. Cleared offenses are crimes for which at least one person is arrested, charged, and turned over to the court for prosecution. This does not necessarily mean the person arrested is guilty or will be convicted of the crime.
The Crime Index tabulates the violent crimes of murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, and the property crimes of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. Arrest statistics include information on many different crimes, such as drug violations, fraud, runaways, and vagrancy. Various trends and patterns can be interpreted from these statistical categories.
Highest Rates in the Cities
While crime is certainly not limited to the cities, it is far more likely to occur in urban areas than in rural areas. According to the Crime Index, crime rate in metropolitan statistical areas during 2002 was 4,409.1 per 100,000 inhabitants. (As defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, a "metropolitan statistical area," or MSA, is an urbanized area including a central city of 50,000 residents or more, or a Census Bureau-defined urbanized area of at least 50,000 inhabitants and a total metropolitan population of 75,000 in New England and at least 100,000 elsewhere.) In cities outside the metropolitan areas (a city or urbanized area not meeting the qualifications for an MSA) the rate was 4,524.0 per 100,000, over 2.25 times higher than in rural areas (1,908 per 100,000 inhabitants). (See Table 1.2.) The crime with the greatest disparity between MSAs and rural rates, robbery, occurred about 11 times more often in metropolitan areas than in rural areas. The incidence of motor vehicle theft was about 3.5 times higher in MSAs than in rural areas.
Crime Index total rates in smaller cities, while just slightly higher than those in metropolitan areas, displayed different characteristics. In 2002 the overall rate of violent crime was higher in metropolitan areas (545.6 per 100,000 residents) than in smaller cities (403.1). In all categories of violent crime except forcible rape, the rate was higher in metropolitan areas. The rate of property crime was higher in cities outside metropolitan areas than within metropolitan areas (4,121.0 and 3,863.5 per 100,000, respectively). Among property crimes, larceny-theft occurred at a significantly higher rate in smaller cities (3,107.9 per 100,000 residents) than in metropolitan areas (2,596.4).
According to the Crime Index, the nation's largest cities (over one million in population) reported a 4.4 percent decrease in violent crimes from January to June 2003. (See Table 1.1.) By comparison, during that same period, the rate of violent crime was down by 2.6 percent in cities with populations between 100,000 and 249,999.
In the first six months of 2003, murders were up by 5.7 percent in cities with over one million in population, compared to the same period in 2002. The largest increase in murders during this time was 8.3 percent in cities with populations between 100,000 and 249,999, closely followed by a 6.0 percent increase in murders in cities with under 10,000 in population. In contrast, murders declined by 3.9 percent in cities with populations of between 500,000 and 999,999. The percentage of forcible rapes during the first six months of 2003 were highest in cities with over one million in population (2.3 percent), while forcible rapes were down by as much as 10.5 percent in cities of 500,000 to 999,999.
Property crimes such as larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft also declined in large cities of one million or more residents, while rising in cities with under 10,000 population. The only increase in burglaries (1.2 percent) occurred in cities with populations over one million. Motor vehicle thefts were up by 3.4 percent in cities with populations between 100,000 and 249,000, followed by an increase of 3.2 percent in cities with populations between 25,000 and 49,999.
Distinct crime patterns are also commonly evident between different regions of the nation. In 2002 the South, the most populous region, had the highest crime rates for both violent crimes (571.0 per 100,000 residents) and property crimes (4,151.0 per 100,000). The Northeast, the least populous region, had the lowest property crime rate (2,472.6 per 100,000) and the lowest violent crime rate (416.5 per 100,000). (See Figure 1.1.)