Crime Trends Have Been Tough to Track. We Broke Down the 10 Biggest Cities
Police tape blocks off the area after a man shot four people in a building in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 3, 2023. One person was killed and three were injured in the southern US city of Atlanta on Wednesday when a gunman opened fire inside a building, police said, in the latest gun violence to hit the country. (Photo by Elijah NOUVELAGE / AFP) (Photo by ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP via Getty Images)

By Petr Svab

Is crime rising or falling across the United States? National crime trends have been difficult to track in recent years because of changes in the way that police departments report their statistics to the FBI.

But by examining crime data from large police departments individually, a clearer pattern emerges.

The Epoch Times’ analysis of data going back several years shows that while the major crime spike that plagued the United States’ largest cities has ebbed, crime rates are still exceeding numbers from before the 2020 summer of protests and riots.

Car theft, in particular, has remained high. Robbery, on the other hand, has declined significantly in some large cities.

The analysis has focused on the top 10 most populous cities and the four offenses of murder, robbery, aggravated assault, and car theft, which tend to be the most reliably reported to the police, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey conducted by the Census Bureau.

New York City, Pop. 8.2 Million

The country’s largest city suffered a surge in violence starting in mid-2020 as a wave of protests and riots hit the country following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

Shootings doubled that year, with more than 1,850 wounded or killed. Car theft, after dwindling for decades, shot up by 66 percent, NYPD data show.

Crime continued to rise in 2021, with 488 people murdered—the most in a decade.

In 2022, murder declined by about 10 percent, but instances of other serious crimes kept increasing. Car theft was up by more than 150 percent from 2019. Major theft (of items worth more than $1,000 in value) and felony assaults reached numbers unseen since the 1990s.

Violent crime subsided a step further in 2023. Murder dropped by another 11 percent but was still more than 20 percent above the pre-2020 numbers. Meanwhile, car thefts and felony assaults went up again.

This year, so far, murder appears to be further receding, though still holding stubbornly 20 percent above 2019 numbers for the same period. Robberies and felony assaults, however, are both up from last year and more than 40 percent above 2019 levels. Car theft has eased up, yet the rate is still double that of 2019.

Los Angeles, Pop. 3.8 Million

Los Angeles is following a similar trajectory to New York City. Crime surged in 2020 and continued to rise until 2022, aside from murder, which peaked in 2021 with 401 fatalities—the worst since 2006.

Based on incomplete data, crime seems to have declined a bit in 2023, although murder is still 30 percent above the 2019 level, felony assault is up by about 17 percent, and car theft is up by more than 70 percent.

Officials stand next to a barrel where a body was discovered in Malibu Lagoon State Beach, Calif., on July 31, 2023. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

This year, it appears that the LAPD hasn’t been releasing its weekly crime reports. A spokesman reached by phone said the department is switching to a new system so the reports aren’t available.

The department provided some figures for this year up to June 22: Violent crime had been up by 3.5 percent from the same period in 2023, and so was murder. Robberies were up by 18.5 percent, and burglaries up by 4.2 percent. Property crime dropped by 3.1 percent.

Chicago, Pop. 2.7 Million

Chicago experienced a giant spike in murder in 2016. But by 2019, it had just about managed to get it under control. Then 2020 hit and, just as with other cities, violence exploded anew and continued upward in 2021, which resulted in 811 murders—the most since 1995.

Since 2022, murders have decreased, but other crime has continued to rise. So far this year, murder is up by 20 percent compared with the same period in 2019, robbery is up by 40 percent, aggravated battery is up by 4 percent, and car theft is up by 150 percent. Last year, nearly 30,000 cars were stolen in Chicago—the most since at least the year 2000.

Houston, Pop. 2.3 Million

Houston was still trying to contain a wave of violence that started in 2015 when another wave hit in 2020. The following year, in 2021, the city recorded 471 murders, making for its highest homicide rate since 1994.

The violence has eased since then, but last year’s murders still outpaced 2019 by more than 20 percent.

In the first four months of this year, murders seem to have further abated, although aggravated assaults are still nearly 20 percent above the same period in 2019 and car theft is almost 50 percent higher.

Robberies, on the other hand, have been on a steady decline since 2019—down by 25 percent in 2023.

Police line up on Vermont Avenue as people protest over the death of George Floyd, in Washington on June 23, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski /AFP via Getty Images)

Phoenix, Pop. 1.6 Million

Phoenix followed much the same trajectory, with a spike in violence in 2016, another increase in 2020, and a peak in 2022 when 217 people were killed, making for the city’s highest murder rate since 2007.

In 2023, violence somewhat declined, but car theft jumped by 22 percent.

In the first quarter of this year, the city managed another reduction in murders because of a particularly calm March, with five murders. Car thefts and aggravated assaults barely budged, though, and robberies are up by 17 percent compared with the first quarter of 2023.

Philadelphia, Pop. 1.5 Million

After a record-breaking tally of 562 murders in 2021, Philadelphia has staged a stunning comeback. So far this year, the city has recorded 125 murders, compared with 265 by the same point in 2021. This puts the city on track for one of its least deadly years in decades.

Robberies and aggravated assaults are down, not just compared with last year, but even compared with 2019.

The improvements are blemished, however, by a massive surge in car theft—up by 160 percent—and a 186 percent increase in retail theft, both compared with 2019.

San Antonio, Pop. 1.5 Million

San Antonio tracked along the familiar pattern: violence up in 2016, down by 2019, up again in 2020, and peaking in 2022 with 230 murders, making for the city’s worst homicide rate since 1994.

Homicides eased substantially in 2023, but car theft spiked further. More than 19,000 vehicles were stolen that year, which appears to have the worst rate since 1992.

In the first five months of this year, murder is still up by 22 percent, robbery is unchanged, aggravated assaults are down by 13 percent, and car theft is up by 117 percent compared with the same period in 2019.

Police officers walk along on a blocked off road after a shooting at a nearby bar in Trabuco Canyon, Calif., on Aug. 23, 2023. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

San Diego, Pop. 1.4 Million

San Diego has enjoyed crime rates at about the national average—a remarkable feat for a city of its size. It still saw a spike in violence in 2020. That peaked in 2022, with just 65 murders on record.

In the first five months of this year, 17 murders have been reported compared with 15 in the same period in 2019. Aggravated assaults are up by about 27 percent. Robberies, on the other hand, are down by 14 percent, and car theft is only about 8 percent above 2019 levels.

Dallas, Pop. 1.3 Million

Dallas has its own story to tell. Murders went up in 2019 and peaked in 2020. They then dropped for two years and went up again last year—together with a 40 percent surge in car theft.

In the first five months of this year, murders were down again compared with last year, but still 28 percent above the 2019 level. Car thefts were down as well, by about 25 percent, but still about 50 percent above the 2020 numbers.

Comparisons with previous years are complicated by the city’s providing monthly crime figures only going back to 2020. The Epoch Times asked the Dallas Police Department for monthly car theft data for 2019 but was told to submit a request under the Texas Public Information Act. The Epoch Times did so and hadn’t received the data by press time.

Jacksonville, Pop. 986,000

With Florida’s growing population, Jacksonville is now the country’s 10th largest city. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, however, hasn’t produced crime statistics in recent years, aside from annual homicide numbers.

Based on data that it submitted to the FBI and the state crime data program between 2016 and 2020, homicides and aggravated assaults have gradually increased, but robbery declined and car thefts remained about the same.

The city finished last year with 121 homicides, down from 135 the year before and 129 in 2019.

The Epoch Times submitted a public records request for the missing crime statistics but didn’t receive them by press time.

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