Crime is a complex phenomenon that cannot be completely described by statistics, though data certainly helps in understanding trends as a means for deeper investigation. Psychology, environment, local infrastructure, social programs, population density, and demography all have a sizeable impact on who commits crimes, where they commit them, and for what reasons. All of these factors are spectrum based, which means that each individual crime can differ from the next for reasons that are not easily predicted.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) attempt to aggregate local crime data in a digestible way that can be analyzed, and the data included herein comes directly from UCR tables. It is very important to avoid over-generalization when reading our charts and visualizations. For example, if you see that the total value of goods stolen between 2012 and 2013 has increased significantly in your city, it is not necessarily correct that this is a “bad, worrying, troublesome trend” since it does not take into consideration things like the growth or decline of local gross domestic product. While the value of stolen goods might have increased in a specific place, it still might represent a decrease as function of something like individual GDP.
But do ask questions. Explore and compare data with the understanding that a single chart (or even a series of charts) cannot fully explain crime. These tables and charts are meant to be conversation starters. What can local populations do to curb property crime or reduce burglary? Is it a good idea to invest in extra security features, like monitored alarm systems, for your home? What can neighborhoods do to be safer? What should people be on the lookout for?
Prevention and education go hand-in-hand in the effort to create safer communities for everyone.
States with Available Data
- North Dakota
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia