Each year, the FBI collects crime reporting from more than 18,000 city, county, state, university and tribal agencies and pulls the data together in one huge report. Here are six surprising trends from 2012.
Big city crime’s got nothing on the minor league of American metropolises. Chicago and New York, two of America’s largest cities, led the country in total homicides, but they had lower per capita homicide rates than the worst locales. In Chicago,there was one homicide for every 5,417 residents, while in New York, there was one for every 19,784 people. New Orleans, meanwhile, had one homicide for every 1,880 people; Detroit had one for every 1,832, and nearby Flint, Michigan, topped the list with 63 homicides among roughly 101,000 residents, or one homicide for every 1,613 people.
The South is America’s most violent region. The sixteen states and one district in the Southeast (Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas), make up America’s largest region with just over 37 percent of the population. It is also the most violent. The Southeast accounted for nearly 497,000 violent crimes, 41 percent of all reported violent crime in the U.S. The South also led the country with the highest violent crime compared to population, followed by the West, and Midwest, and finally the Northeast.
Texans can (and apparently will) kill you with their bare hands. Texas has a well-earned reputation as a gun friendly state with more firearms dealers–8,500 according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives–than any other state. But firearms only accounted for 65 percent of homicides for which additional data is available in Texas in 2012. That’s below other states like Illinois (86 percent), Michigan (76 percent) and California (69 percent). What gives? Maybe it’s what we like to call the Chuck Norris Effect: Texas leads the country in the number of people (101) killed by “hands, fists and feet.” California–which clocked some 700 more homicides than Texas–was second in that category with 87.
It was a better year for jewel burglars than car thieves. Last year, thieves made off with more than $15.5 billion worth of stuff, down from just over $17 billion five years ago. In 2012, theft victims lost fewer cars ($3.8 billion worth, down from $5.6 billion in 2008), TVs and stereos ($756 million, down from $966 million in 2008) and livestock ($15.6 million, down from $22.8 million in 2008). But thieves made off with $300 million more in jewelry and precious metals than they did last year.
Love triangles are deadlier than bar brawls and snipers. Last year, 82 people were killed in alcohol-fuled brawls, 58 people were killed in narcotics-induced fights, 148 people were killed in an argument over money or property, and 3,085 people were killed in other disputes, all the lowest figures in four years. But 95 people were killed as a result of romantic triangles, an increase of 10 from 2011. Also on the list: One person was killed by a sniper and four were killed by being thrown out of windows.
Intoxicated people keep the police very busy. In 2012, police arrested 12.1 million people across the United States. Property crimes accounted for 1.6 million arrests; more than half a million people were arrested for violent crimes, with another nearly 1.2 million arrested for lesser assaults. But drugs and alcohol detentions were the most common. Drug abuse violations accounted for more than 1.5 million arrests; nearly 1.3 million people were arrested for driving under the influence, while another half a million people were arrested for drunkenness and more than 400,000 for violating liquor laws.