Violent crime rises 18 percent nationwide

U.S. sees first year-to-year hike in nearly two decades

Violent crime in the United States rose by 18 percent last year, the first year-to-year increase in nearly two decades, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

The instances of reported crimes of violence, according to the department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), had fallen more than 65 percent since 1993, dropping from 16.8 million incidents to 5.8 million.

The number of property crimes last year also showed an increase, jumping by 11 percent.

According to the BJS‘ annual National Crime Victimization Survey, the size of the percentage increases in both violent crime and property crime for last year was driven in large part by the historically low levels seen in 2010.

“While the percentage change in violent crime from 2010 to 2011 is relatively large, the actual difference between the rates for those years is below the average annual change in violent crime over the past two decades,” the BJS noted. “The low rates make the percentage change large, but crime still remains at historically low levels.”

Violent crime measured in the survey includes rape or sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated and simple assault. Property crime includes burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft.

The BJS said the increase in violent crime came as a result of a 22 percent rise in the number of reported assaults, which jumped from 4 million in 2010 to 5 million last year. It said the rate of assault victims increased from 19.3 per 1,000 people to 22.5 per 1,000 last year. It also said the increases in violent crime experienced by whites, Hispanics, younger people and men accounted for the majority of the increase in violent crime.

From 2010 to 2011, the BJS said white non-Hispanics and Hispanics experienced an increase in violent victimization rates, while the rate for black non-Hispanics was stable. In 2011, it said no statistical differences were detected in the rate of total violent victimization among the three groups.

From 2010 to 2011, the BJS said the violent victimization rate for people ages 12 to 17 increased from 28.1 victimizations per 1,000 in 2010 to 37.7 in 2011 and people ages 18 to 24 increased from 33.9 to 49.0.

In 2011, it said males had a higher rate of total violent victimization than females and that residents in urban areas continued to experience the highest rates of total violent victimization, while those living in suburban areas experienced an increase in violent crime.

The BJS also noted that property crime was up for the first time in a decade, from 15.4 million in 2010 to 17 million last year. It said household burglaries rose 14 percent, from 3.2 million to 3.6 million, and the number of thefts jumped by 10 percent, from 11.6 million to 12.8 million. It also said the rate of total property crime increased 11 percent, from 125.4 to 138.7 victimizations per 1,000 households from 2010 to 2011.

The numbers are based on telephone surveys by the Census Bureau. The BJS counts crimes that never are reported to the police as well as those that are.

A more closely watched set of annual crime statistics is scheduled to be released Oct. 29 when the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report is made public. It tabulates all reported crime nationally annually. A preliminary FBI report covering the first half of 2011 said total violent crime had fallen by about 4 percent.

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