The title of this post is the title of this effective short FactTank report about US crime rates authored byJohn Gramlich for the Pew Research Center. I recommend the full piece, which includes lost of links, and here are some exerpts:
As Trump’s presidency draws to a close, here is a look at what we know — and don’t know — about crime in the U.S., based on a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the federal government and other sources…
Property crime in the U.S. is much more common than violent crime. In 2019, the FBI reported a total of 2,109.9 property crimes per 100,000 people, compared with 379.4 violent crimes per 100,000 people. By far the most common form of property crime in 2019 was larceny/theft, followed by burglary and motor vehicle theft. Among violent crimes, aggravated assault was the most common offense, followed by robbery, rape, and murder/non-negligent manslaughter….
Both the FBI and BJS data show dramatic declines in U.S. violent and property crime rates since the early 1990s, when crime spiked across much of the nation….
Americans tend to believe crime is up, even when the data shows it is down. In 20 of 24 Gallup surveys conducted since 1993, at least 60% of U.S. adults have said there is more crime nationally than there was the year before, despite the generally downward trend in national violent and property crime rates during most of that period…. This year, the gap between the share of Americans who say crime is up nationally and the share who say it is up locally (78% vs. 38%) is the widest Gallup has ever recorded….
There are big differences in violent and property crime rates from state to state and city to city. In 2019, there were more than 800 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in Alaska and New Mexico, compared with fewer than 200 per 100,000 people in Maine and New Hampshire, according to the FBI.
Even in similarly sized cities within the same state, crime rates can vary widely. Oakland and Long Beach, California, had comparable populations in 2019 (434,036 vs. 467,974), but Oakland’s violent crime rate was more than double the rate in Long Beach. The FBI notes that various factors might influence an area’s crime rate, including its population density and economic conditions….
Most violent and property crimes in the U.S. are not reported to police, and most of the crimes that are reported are not solved.
Fewer than half of crimes in the U.S. are reported, and fewer than half of reported crimes are solved. In its annual survey, BJS asks crime victims whether they reported their crime to police or not. In 2019, only 40.9% of violent crimes and 32.5% of household property crimes were reported to authorities. BJS notes that there are a variety of reasons why crime might not be reported, including fear of reprisal or “getting the offender in trouble,” a feeling that police “would not or could not do anything to help,” or a belief that the crime is “a personal issue or too trivial to report.”
Most of the crimes that are reported to police, meanwhile, are not solved, at least based on an FBI measure known as the clearance rate. That’s the share of cases each year that are closed, or “cleared,” through the arrest, charging and referral of a suspect for prosecution, or due to “exceptional” circumstances such as the death of a suspect or a victim’s refusal to cooperate with a prosecution. In 2019, police nationwide cleared 45.5% of violent crimes that were reported to them and 17.2% of the property crimes that came to their attention.
Both the percentage of crimes that are reported to police and the percentage that are solved have remained relatively stable for decades…. The most frequently solved violent crime tends to be homicide. Police cleared around six-in-ten murders and non-negligent manslaughters (61.4%) last year. The clearance rate was lower for aggravated assault (52.3%), rape (32.9%) and robbery (30.5%). When it comes to property crime, law enforcement agencies cleared 18.4% of larcenies/thefts, 14.1% of burglaries and 13.8% of motor vehicle thefts.