After two years of decline, the estimated number of violent crimes in the nation increased 3.9 percent in 2015 when compared with 2014 data, according to FBI figures released today. Property crimes dropped 2.6 percent, marking the 13th straight year the collective estimates for these offenses declined.
The 2015 statistics show the estimated rate of violent crime was 372.6 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, and the property crime rate was 2,487.0 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants. The violent crime rate rose 3.1 percent compared with the 2014 rate, and the property crime rate declined 3.4 percent.
These and additional data are presented in the 2015 edition of the FBI’s annual report Crime in the United States. This publication, which is a statistical compilation of offense, arrest, and police employee data reported by law enforcement agencies voluntarily participating in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, also includes limited federal crime reporting, human trafficking, and cargo theft data.
The UCR Program collects information on crimes reported by law enforcement agencies regarding the violent crimes of murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, as well as the property crimes of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. (Although the FBI classifies arson as a property crime, it does not estimate arson data because of variations in the level of participation by the reporting agencies. Consequently, arson data are not included in the property crime estimate.) The program also collects arrest data for the offenses listed above plus 20 offenses that include all other crimes except traffic violations.
Prior to 2013, the FBI’s UCR Program collected rape data in the Summary Reporting System under the category “forcible rape.” In 2013, the program removed the term “forcible” from the title and revised the definition. The legacy UCR definition of rape is “The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” The revised UCR definition of rape is “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.”
Of the 18,439 city, county, university and college, state, tribal, and federal agencies eligible to participate in the UCR Program, 16,643 submitted data in 2015. A high-level summary of the statistics submitted, as well as estimates for those agencies that did not report, follows:
- In 2015, there were an estimated 1,197,704 violent crimes. Murder and non-negligent manslaughter increased 10.8 percent when compared with estimates from 2014.
- Rape and aggravated assault increased 6.3 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively, while robbery increased 1.4 percent.
- Nationwide, there were an estimated 7,993,631 property crimes. The estimated numbers for two of the three property crimes show declines when compared with the previous year’s estimates. Burglaries dropped 7.8 percent, and larceny-thefts declined 1.8 percent, but motor vehicle thefts rose 3.1 percent.
- Collectively, victims of property crimes (excluding arson) suffered losses estimated at $14.3 billion in 2015.
- The FBI estimated that law enforcement agencies nationwide made 10.8 million arrests, excluding traffic violations, in 2015.
- The arrest rate for violent crime was 157.2 per 100,000 inhabitants, and the arrest rate for property crime was 458.9 per 100,000 inhabitants.
- By violent crime offense, the arrest rate for murder and non-negligent manslaughter was 3.5 per 100,000 inhabitants; rape (aggregate total of revised and legacy), 7.1; robbery, 29.7; and aggravated assault, 117.0 per 100,000 inhabitants.
- By property crime offense, the arrest rate for burglary was 67.5 per 100,000 inhabitants; larceny-theft, 364.5; and motor vehicle theft, 24.2. The arrest rate for arson was 2.8 per 100,000 inhabitants.
- In 2015, there were 13,160 law enforcement agencies that reported their staffing levels to the FBI. These agencies reported that, as of October 31, 2015, they collectively employed 635,781 sworn officers and 277,380 civilians, a rate of 3.3 employees per 1,000 inhabitants.
Caution Against Ranking
Each year when Crime in the United States is published, some entities use the figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. These rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, tribal area, or region. Consequently, they lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents. Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction. The data user is, therefore, cautioned against comparing statistical data of individual reporting units from cities, metropolitan areas, states, or colleges or universities solely on the basis of their population coverage or student enrollment.