Crime climbing: Murder, violent offenses up in most of US in first half of 2016, FBI finds
Nine months before the FBI releases its final 2016 crime report, the bureau’s preliminary report is already conveying a difficult reality for most areas of the US. Between January and June last year, violent crime rose when compared to the same six months of 2015. However, property crimes fell generally.
The trends are based on submissions from 13,366 law enforcement agencies, which reported between three to six months of comparable data to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR).
All violent crimes, ranging from murder to non-negligent manslaughter, from rape to aggravated assault and robbery, saw an uptick overall.
Murder increased 5.2 percent overall. Of the eight city groupings, the sharpest upticks were in the most and least populated areas. Cities with at least 1 million population saw an increase of 21.6 percent, while those with less than 10,000 saw an increase of 16.7 percent. The biggest reductions came in cities with between 10,000 and 24,999 inhabitants, with a 6.4 percent drop in murders.
Aggravated assault increased in general more than any other violent crime, up 6.5 percent, and never once decreased in any city grouping by population. The highest jump, up 11.4 percent, was again in the most highly populated cities.
TWO DEFINITIONS OF RAPE
Calculating rape trends gets a little more complicated, as the FBI changed its definition in 2013. The federal agency now accepts statistics from local police in two different categories, rape under its “legacy definition” and under the “revised definition.”
As the FBI explains in its press release, “The term ‘forcible’ was removed from the offense name, and the definition was changed to ‘penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.’”
By the “forcible,” or legacy definition, rape increased 4.4 percent overall, while the revised definition rose 3.5 percent.
The FBI's preliminary report showed no information for legacy rape in cities of over 1 million in population. However, it did show a 16.2 percent increase in metropolitan counties, compared to a 1.1 percent increase in nonmetropolitan counties.
Under the revised definition, rape increased 11.3 percent in cities of 1 million or more people, as well as a nearly identical 11 percent increase in cities of between 250,000 and 499,999 people.
While property offenses decreased 0.6 percent overall, with burglaries down 3.4 percent and larceny-thefts down 0.8 percent, things went the opposite way for motor vehicle thefts, up 6.6 percent.
The largest increase in property crimes theft, up 2.1 percent, was found in cities of 1 million or more inhabitants. The biggest drop, down 3.5 percent, was in the smallest cities with a less than 10,000 population. The only region to see an increase was the West, up 0.8 percent, while the Northeast saw the steepest decline, 2.4 percent.
The FBI cautions against any rush to rank areas by crime with these statistics.
“Only through careful study and analyses into the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction can data users create valid assessments of crime,” the agency wrote in the report.