FBI Reports Crime Down in 2008


Unemployment, interest rates, stress—they’re all on the rise as the economy is buffeted by a downturn. What’s not rising, however, is crime, according to statistics compiled by the FBI that show violent crimes and property crimes declined nationwide in 2008.

The data, released today in the FBI’s annual Crime in the United States publication, show violent crimes declined for the second straight year, down 1.9 percent in 2008 from a year earlier. Each of the four categories of violent crime offenses showed declines, including murder and nonnegligent manslaughter (down 3.9 percent); aggravated assault (down 2.5 percent); and forcible rape (down 1.6 percent).

Property crimes on the whole declined for the sixth straight year, led in large part by a 12.7 percent reduction in motor vehicle thefts. Burglaries (up 2 percent) and larceny-thefts (up .3 percent) showed small increases from a year earlier. Losses from property crimes last year are valued at more than $17 billion.

The statistics are provided to the FBI by nearly 17,800 law enforcement agencies that participate voluntarily in our Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program.

Here are some of the report’s estimates and findings:

-- Stolen vehicles accounted for $5.6 billion in property losses in 2008, but more than half of that figure, $3.2 billion, was recovered;
-- 62,807 arson offenses were reported in 2008; the average loss per offense was $16,015;
-- Regionally, the South—an area that includes Maryland, Florida, and Texas—had the highest violent crime rate, while the Northeast had the lowest;
-- The Western region of the U.S. had the largest year-over-year decrease in murders (down 6.8 percent), violent crimes (down 2.9 percent), property crimes (down 3.2 percent), and motor vehicle thefts (16.9 percent); and
-- Of the 14,180 murder victims in 2008, the age group 20-24 accounted for the most victims (2,428).
-- The estimated number of forcible rapes (89,000) in 2008 was the lowest figure in 20 years.

In addition to detailing crimes, the annual report contains data on arrests and the percentage of cases that law enforcement agencies have cleared.

Among the key findings:

-- Law enforcement agencies made an estimated 14,005,615 arrests in 2008;
-- The most frequent arrests in 2008 were for drug abuse violations (an estimated 1,702,537);
-- Three in four arrestees in 2008 were males and 69.2 percent of arrestees were white;
-- Driving under the influence accounted for an estimated 1.4 million arrests last year;
-- 45.1 percent of violent crimes and 17.4 percent of property crimes were cleared in 2008, and murder had the highest clearance rate (63.6 percent); and
-- 38.2 percent of cleared arson offenses involved juveniles.

The annual report, available only online at http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2008/rankingmessage.htm, includes detailed information by law enforcement agency, location, crime type, weapon type, and demographics, among others. Please be careful not to draw conclusions of the data by making direct comparisons between cities—valid assessments are possible ONLY with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction.

The FBI division that compiles the crime data, Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS), also assembles reports on law enforcement officers killed and assaulted in the line of duty and on hate crimes. The annual report on law enforcement officers killed and assaulted is scheduled for release October 19, 2009. The annual hate crime report is tentatively scheduled for release November 23, 2009.


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