Preliminary data indicates that, for the third year in a row, the rate of violent crime in the United States is down. It appears that property crime also declined, for the seventh straight year.

Our final figures won’t be available until the fall, but our just-released Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report, January to December 2009, shows some fairly significant decreases—5.5 percent for violent crime and 4.9 percent for property crime, as reported to us by 13,237 law enforcement agencies from around the country that provided at least six months of data.

Here are some more top line numbers from the report:

  • All four categories of violent crime declined overall compared to 2008: robbery, 8.1 percent; murder, 7.2 percent; aggravated assault, 4.2 percent; and forcible rape, 3.1 percent. Violent crime declined 4.0 percent in metropolitan counties and 3.0 percent in nonmetropolitan counties.

  • The largest decrease in murders—7.5 percent—was in cities with populations ranging from 500,000 to 999,999. The only increases in murders were found in cities of 25,000 to 49,999 (up 5.3 percent) and nonmetropolitan counties (up 1.8 percent).

  • All overall categories of property crime also decreased when compared to 2008. Motor vehicle theft was down 17.2 percent; larceny-theft, 4.2 percent; and burglaries, 1.7 percent. Motor vehicle theft, which experienced the largest decrease in a single property crime category by far, fell significantly in all four regions of the country—down 18.5 percent in the Midwest, down 17.5 percent in both the Northeast and the West, and down 16.3 percent in the South. 

  • Arson declined across the board, with reported decreases across all population groups and all four regions of the country—11.6 percent in the West, 10.6 percent in the South, 9.2 percent in the Midwest, and 8.6 percent in the Northeast.

The report also contains individual 2008 and 2009 figures for all eight crimes—murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, and arson—by cities with populations of 100,000 or more.

Why do we put out these preliminary numbers? To get the information as quickly as possible into the hands of those who need it most—like local law enforcement and community leaders who are in positions to implement effective crime strategies.

But please note: the FBI doesn’t offer in-depth analysis of the data. We leave that to criminologists, state and local law enforcement agencies, and other experts.

However, despite the decreases we have noted in 2009 crime levels, law enforcement agencies around the country—including the FBI—have not lessened efforts to investigate these crimes, and we continue to work with one another to develop strategies to combat and prevent violence and crime in our communities.

- Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report (2009)
- Press release
- Other Uniform Crime Reports


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