Crime plummeting?

In 2007, the claim was that crime was surging. USA Today had the headline: "Cities see crime surge as threat to their revival." As I mentioned at the time, the claim was a hoax because of selective reporting of crime rates.

Well, now there are reports of lower crime rates across the country (though it hasn't been even and the total change in crime rates isn't completely obvious).

Overall in the city of Los Angeles, property crimes, such as burglary and auto theft, were down 6.4% over the same period last year, while violent crimes, including homicides and rapes, were down 4.9%. The only citywide increase was a 1.6% rise in robberies. Elsewhere in the county, the Sheriff's Department reported a 10% drop in serious violent and property crimes in the areas it patrols.

Other large American cities similarly have bucked expectations this year. New York City posted a dramatic 14% drop in overall serious crimes, while Chicago and Houston also saw declines. Across the country, however, things are far more uneven. More than 100 large police departments have reported increases in property crimes or robberies this year, according to a survey by a police research group. . . .

The New York Times in a very biased article from August 1st on the reasons for the changes talks about the total changes this way:

Not that the news is bad — from New York to Los Angeles to Madison, Wis., major crimes, violent or not, are down between 7 percent and 22 percent over the same period last year. In Chicago, the number of homicides dropped 12 percent. In Charlotte, N.C., hard hit by the banking crisis, that total fell an astounding 38 percent. It is too soon to conclude that crime will decline throughout the recession, and the new numbers, which come from standardized reports that police departments send to the F.B.I., have yet to be made into a national measure. But crime was supposed to go up, not sharply down. . . .

Some of those cities that are experiencing a drop this year saw a big increase last year (note overall murder rates fell 4.4 percent last year). For example, Chicago's murder rate went up 15 percent last year, Seattle's went up 21 percent last year, Charlotte went up 9.2 percent, and New York City by 5.4 percent. Looking at these big cities last year and you would have thought that crime was really going up, but when all the numbers were in for the entire country the murder rate had fallen. The murder rate had fallen not only for the US as a whole, but also for large cities with populations over 1 million (-4.3 percent). Indeed, the murder rate had fallen for every size city. I pick the above cities because I was asked about those cities by a reporter ("New York, DC, LA, Seattle, Charlotte, and so on . . .").

The one type of crime that is clearly falling nationally is bank robbery.

A new report issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) indicates a decline in the number of reported violations of the Federal Bank Robbery and Incidental Crimes Statute. In the second quarter of 2008, there were 1,444 reported violations of the statute, while in the second quarter of 2009 there were 1,304 reported violations. . . .

For those who aren't familiar with the pattern of murder rates in New York City, this graph from June this year is interesting. By the way, the total number of murders in New York City this year up to that point were lower than in 2008, but higher than in 2007. Here are the number on the change in US crime rates from 2007 to 2008.



Blogger Raven Lunatic said...

You know, didn't gun sales pick up starting late last summer/early fall? Particularly after early November?

Thank you, Mr. Obama, for scaring the good people of America into purchasing what they need to protect themselves.

8/19/2009 2:45 AM  

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