Year in Review: 2011 – Overall Crime Statistics

UPDATE: This is Part 1, Overall Crime Statistics

Part 2, Property Crime

Part 3, Violent Crime

A few days ago the NC Department of Justice issued their official crime report for 2011.

The homicide rate rose nearly 6 percent in North Carolina last year, but the overall crime rate was the lowest since 1977, state Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Thursday.

What surprised me was that the way the DOJ structure the annual reports you can see the crime data going back 10 years. Couple that with the fact that they have prior year reports posted and I was able to get all the crime data going back to 1986.

So, let’s see what crime really looks like in North Carolina.

First we need to see the population data.

The population estimate is important because raw crime numbers are not particularly useful. If one state has 100 crimes and another has 200 crimes, is the second state twice as dangerous? The answer depends upon the state’s population. If the second state has four times the population, that means the crime rate is half as bad as the first state. It’s simple math. 100/x vs. 200/4x. This reduces to 50/x which is half of 100/x.

The same thing goes for comparisons from one year to the next. As population increases, you would assume crime would increase. If you fail to take into account that the population has increased, when you see higher crime numbers you will mistakenly believe that crime is getting worse.

North Carolina uses a category called “Index Crime” which is the total number of violent crimes added to the total number of property crimes. They do not include Arson in this index. By comparing the Index Crime across the years we can get a sense of the total overall crime rate in the state of North Carolina.

What we see is very dramatic. Overall crime shot up from 1986 to 1991 or so and then the total number leveled off. Look at the population estimate again. While overall crime from 1991 to about 2008 stayed relatively the same, North Carolina’s population went up a lot. You can see that the rate of crime per 100,000 people, the red line on this chart, went down every year except 2001.

Then came 2009. Basically in 2009, 2010, and 2011 crime rates, which were at historically low levels anyway, fell off a cliff. In 1991 there were about 6000 crimes per 100,000 population. Now the crime rate is less than 4,000 per 100,000. Crime has dropped by 1/3rd in 20 years.

Why is that? I couldn’t tell you. The standard model of criminal behavior is that poverty causes crime. Less money means people are more likely to commit crimes. Given that the people who push this theory are Leftists who are trying to take our money and give it to others, I’ve always thought it was a self-serving theory.

Since poverty causes crime, crime is our fault for allowing people to live in poverty. We should be taxed more to provide social services to these poor and downtrodden people, which will prevent crime. Isn’t it amazing how the Leftist solution to everything is take money from the productive and give it to the non-productive? It’s almost as if they give us the choice of being robbed by them or by criminals. That’s why I like to refer to the various forms of theft, robbery, larceny, and burglary as “Street Socialism.”

So how does that explain the last 4 years? We are in a serious recession and crime rates are falling fast. Obviously the theory needs a revamp.

I have two more sets of charts, the Violent Crime charts and the Property Crime charts. Together they will tell a fascinating tale. Stay tuned for them.

A big thank you to Linoge at Walls of the City for helping me with the charts. He showed me how to put both the raw numbers and the rate data on one chart.