Crime is alive and well in the United States. As a nation, we have relatively high crime rates; however, they have decreased significantly over the past 25 years. The crime rate in the U.S. is about 47.70 per 100,000 people.
The American government categorizes crime in two ways. A criminal act is either a violent crime or a property crime. The four criminal behaviors that fall into the category of violent crime include:
- Aggravated assault
- Homicide, whether intentional or accidental
In 2016, the most common type of violent crime committed in the United States was aggravated assault. Robbery was the next type of violent crime to take place most often, and although homicide rates have always been pretty high in America, they still only accounted for about five cases per 100,000 people. Property crime is another category of crime in America, and the specific crimes that fall into this category are:
- Motor vehicular theft and damage
Collective Crime Rates in the United States in 2016
The average crime rates in America during the year 2016 were:
- Homicide, 5.3 deaths per 100,000 people
- Robbery, 102.8 cases per 100,000 people
- Aggravated assault, 248.5 instances per 100,000 people
- Burglary, 468.9 cases per 100,000 people
- Theft of property, 1,745 cases per 100,000 people
- Motor vehicle theft, 236.9 cases for every 100,000 people
In 2017, the nation saw a 0.2% decline in crime across the country than the crime rates from 2016. However, this is not as good of news as it sounds at face value. Even with this decrease, there were still over seventeen thousand murders in the country, approximately 5.3 deaths per 100,000 people.
The fact that the United States saw lower crime rates in 2017 is good news, but it also isn't that impressive when you look at the numbers. Take a look at the values below for crimes that involved guns and criminal activity that resulted in murder, if that wasn't the goal in the first place. These numbers are still quite large, and they are evidence of the reality that the United States still has a long way to go before crime becomes abnormal instead of the norm.
Crime rates vary significantly between states based on several factors, including population density and economic factors.
States with the Lowest Crime Rates
Maine has the lowest crime rate of 1,360.72 incidents per 100,000 people. In 2018, the total number of crimes reported in Maine dropped for the seventh straight year. Since 2009, the total number of reported crimes has fallen by more than 40%. Law enforcement credits the community for working closely with them to achieve this.
New Hampshire has the second-lowest crime rate in the United States of 1,361.76 incidents per 100,000. New Hampshire's safest cities boast crime rates that are less than 100 incidents per 100,000 people. New Hampshire, however, does have a higher-than-average reported rape rate of 49.4 per 100,000 people. Researchers are not sure whether this reflects a culture of sexual assault or a culture of accurate reporting.
Idaho has a crime rate of 1,443.32 per 100,000 people, making it the state with the third-lowest crime rate. Some of Idaho's safest cities are Rexburg, Hailey, and Middleton. According to Safewise, about 2% of Idaho residents reported a personal experience with violent crime in the past year, 10 points below the national average. Aggravated assault is the most common violent crime in Idaho.
Massachusetts has the fourth-lowest crime rate in the U.S. at 1,507.36 incidents per 100,000. Massachusetts's property crime rate of about 1,260 per 100,000 is significantly lower than the national average of 2,200. About 39% of participants in the state's Safewise survey reported worrying about crime daily, down from 55% in 2019. Hopkinton is the safest city in Massachusetts, reporting only 170 crimes per 100,000 people in 2020.
New Jersey's crime rate of 1,542.55 is the fifth-lowest nationwide. New Jersey's violent crime rate falls year over year and currently sits around 210 incidents per 100,000 people. In 2019, 30 New Jersey cities made it onto Safewise's 100 Safest Cities in America list, including Bergenfield, Bernards Township, and Monroe Township.
States with the Highest Crime Rates
The District of Columbia has the highest crime rate in the United States of 5,416.09 incidents per 100,000 people. Violent crime in D.C. averages more than twice the average rate. In 2018, the violent crime rate was 995.9 per 100,000, while the national average was 368.9 per 100,000. While overall crime is decreasing in D.C., the murder rate is going up. From 2019 to 2020, homicides increased by 18%, while overall crime decreased by 19%.
New Mexico has the second-highest crime rate of 3,944.96 incidents per 100,000 residents, more than twice the national average. New Mexico also had one of the highest property crime rates in 2018 of 3,420 incidents per 100,000 people. Albuquerque, which is home to more than a quarter of the state's population, reported slight decreases in both violent and property crime.
Alaska has the third-highest crime rate in the United States of 3,777.89 crimes per 100,000 people. The state's rate of sexual assault is 161.6 incidents per 100,000 people, nearly four times the national rate. The most common violent crime reported in Alaska is aggravated assault, followed by rape. Property crime, however, makes up about 79% of crime in Alaska, and violent crime makes up about 21%.
Louisiana's crime rate of 3,711.29 per 100,000 is the fourth-highest in the country. In 2019, Lousiana experienced the highest per capita murder rate for the 31st consecutive year of 11.7 per 100,000 people. Between 1989 and 2014, Louisiana experienced 13.7 murders per 100,000 people. The most dangerous cities in Louisiana are Hammond, Opelousas, and Alexandria. Alexandria's violent crime rate is 1,454 per 100,000 people.
South Carolina has a crime rate of 3,451.58 per 100,000.