Crime Rates Dipped Last Fall, Despite Many Americans' Fears

Newly released data from the FBI shows crime in the U.S. declined between the last quarter of 2022 and the last quarter of 2023, a pattern that runs counter to the common narrative that crime is increasing nationwide.

On Monday, the FBI released data from 2023′s final quarter (October to December) based on the data from nearly 80% of law enforcement agencies in the U.S.

According to the data, violent crime decreased by approximately 6% across all U.S. regions in the final quarter of 2023 compared to the final quarter of 2022. Murder, a subcategory under the violent crime category, decreased by 13%, while rape decreased by 12% in the same time frame across the U.S. Robbery and aggravated assault each decreased by 5%.

Property crime decreased by 4% from the final quarter of 2022 to the final quarter of 2023 as well. Arson decreased by 8%, burglary by 10% and larceny-theft by 6%. By contrast, motor vehicle theft increased by 11%.

Violent crime, particularly murder, increased during 2020 and 2021, but has since declined to pre-pandemic levels, The Associated Press reported in October 2023, citing the FBI’s annual report on crime in 2022.

Despite these numbers, data has shown that 77% of Americans believed that crime had worsened in the past year, according to a Gallup poll published in November 2023.

Crime levels can fluctuate for numerous reasons, including socioeconomic factors, community investment and the purchase of firearms, according to a blog post from The Brennan Center, a nonpartisan organization that focuses on law and policy.

John Roman, a criminologist at the University of Chicago, told NBC News that people tend to confuse disorder, which he says has increased over the past five years, with the presence of crime.

President Joe Biden credited the decrease in crime to work at the federal level.

“Keeping communities safe is my priority. While we’ve made major progress, we still have more work to do,” Biden said in a statement Tuesday. “That’s why I’ll keep fighting to make more investments in preventing crime, to fund additional accountable police officers to ensure trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, and to ban assault weapons to keep guns out of dangerous hands — and I will continue to urge Republicans in Congress to join me.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland released a statement Tuesday as well focusing on Justice Department efforts to decrease crime levels.

“In May 2021, the Justice Department launched our violent crime reduction strategy aimed at addressing the spike in violent crime that occurred during the pandemic,” Garland said.

“Since then, our prosecutors, agents, and grant-making experts have worked in close partnership with police departments and communities across the country to go after the recidivists and gangs that are responsible for the greatest violence; to seize illegal guns and deadly drugs; to make critical investments in hiring more law enforcement officers; and to fund evidence-based, community violence intervention initiatives,” he continued.