FBI preliminary data show rise in violent crime

Violent crime in the U.S. jumped by more than 5 percent during the first half of 2016, according to data released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report attributes the increase to metropolitan areas, with the largest increase coming from cities with more than a million people where violent crime jumped by 9.7 percent.

According to data collected from more than 13,000 law enforcement agencies, violent crime was up 5.3 percent overall, while property crimes overall were down 0.6 percent compared with the first six months of 2015. More specifically, aggravated assaults increased 6.5 percent and murders were up by 5.2 percent. Robberies also increased by 3.5 percent.

The legacy definition of rape rose by 4.4 percent and the revised definition of rape, which removed the word “forcible” and defined rape as sexual penetration of any degree without consent, increased 3.5 percent. Data from both rape definitions was included to ensure a more honest and accurate report.

By region, the West saw the highest increase – 6.4 percent – in violent crime, followed by the Midwest and South both with an increase of 5.9 percent, and the Northwest trailing behind with an increase of 1.2 percent in violent crimes.

Overall, the country saw a slight drop in property crimes for the first part of 2016, although some more specific categories experienced an increase. Burglaries were down the most, with a 3.4 percent decrease, but motor vehicle thefts saw an increase of 6.6 percent.

City rankings among property crimes varied tremendously throughout the country. Cities with a population of 1 million and more experienced the greatest jump – 2.1 percent – in property crimes, while cities with a population of less than 10,000 saw a decrease of 3.5 percent.

Likewise, the West was the only region that demonstrated an increase – 0.8 percent – in property crime. The Northwest saw a decrease of 2.4 percent, followed by the Midwest with a 1.3 percent and the South with a 0.9 percent decrease in property crimes.

The FBI cautioned against using the data to rank crime rates in different cities and counties, noting that a number of variables – not all of which are presented in the report – go into determining crime rates in different areas. According to the bureau, to base ratings strictly on the data included in the report can result in “simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that can create misleading perceptions that adversely affect communities and their residents.”

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