Press Release

For Immediate Release
May 24, 2004

Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691

Preliminary Crime Statistics for 2003 (pdf)

Washington, D.C.-- According to data released today in the FBI’s Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report, despite an increase in murder, the Nation’s violent crime declined 3.2 percent in 2003 as compared to the data reported in 2002. Property crime remained relatively unchanged from the 2002 figure, showing a 0.1-percent decrease.

The preliminary annual report is based upon information from law enforcement agencies that provided the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program with 6 to12 months of data in both 2002 and 2003. In total, 11,921 agencies met the criteria to be included in the preliminary report.

Violent Crime

In order to gauge the level and types of violent acts occurring across the Nation, the UCR Program tracks the offenses of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault; collectively, these offenses form the violent crime category. A comparison of current data to those from 2002 indicates a decline in such crimes nationally. Among the violent offenses, only murder showed an increase during 2003, rising 1.3 percent from the previous year. Of those violent crimes that showed declines, aggravated assault had the largest drop at 4.1 percent; forcible rape and robbery each declined 1.9 percent from the prior year’s data.

The national trend toward fewer violent crimes was reflected in the Nation’s cities, particularly those cities with more than 1 million inhabitants, which had a 6.5-percent reduction in violent crime compared to the 2002 statistics. Among all cities, only those with populations in the range of 50,000 to 99,999 reported any increase (0.7 percent).

Despite the decline in violent offenses overall, all city population groupings reported increases in the offense of murder. The rise was led by a 15.7-percent increase in homicides occurring in the smallest U.S. cities (those with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants) and a
10.8-percent rise in cities with populations in the 10,000–24,999 range. Cities with 1 million or more inhabitants had an increase in murder of 0.2 percent during the time period.

Within metropolitan (suburban) counties, the occurrence of violent crime remained virtually unchanged from the previous year, and nonmetropolitan (rural) counties reported a
4.2-percent drop from the 2002 data. Homicides also declined in both nonmetropolitan and metropolitan counties by 6.5 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively.


The decline in violent crime occurred throughout all four regions of the United States. The Midwest region experienced the steepest decline—a 7.0-percent decrease from 2002 data. The Northeast had a 3.2-percent reduction from the previous year’s violent crime; the South, a 2.7-percent decrease; and the West, a 1.2-percent decrease. Three of the four regions, however, registered increases in murder from the 2002 data: the Northeast, 5.1 percent; the South,
2.8 percent; and the West, 1.8 percent. The Midwest had the only decrease, 4.7 percent, from the 2002 statistics.

Property Crime

The UCR Program collects data on the crimes of burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft to measure the level of crimes occurring in the Nation that involve loss of property; taken together, these offenses comprise the property crime category. For 2003, the data indicated a slight decline, 0.1 percent, in overall property crime offenses compared to the prior year’s data. The decreases seen in larceny-theft (0.5 percent) were offset by increases in burglary
(0.4 percent) and motor vehicle theft (1.4 percent).

For the population groups, the property crime data were mixed: cities having 250,000–499,999 inhabitants showed a 3.4-percent decrease, and those with 1 million or more inhabitants showed a 0.8-percent decline; all other city groupings registered modest increases
(1 percent or less). Collectively, metropolitan counties experienced a 1.0-percent rise in property crimes; data from nonmetropolitan counties were virtually unchanged from those reported in 2002.

By region, both the Northeastern states and those in the Midwest reported decreases in property crimes, 2.7 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively. These declines were offset by increases of 1.9 percent in the West and 0.5 percent in the South.

The incidence of arson, which is not included in the property crime category, decreased 6.9 percent nationally. All four regions of the country reported decreases in arson when comparing the 2002 and 2003 data. The largest decline was 11.1 percent in the Northeast, followed by a 10.1-percent drop in the Midwest. The South had a 6.3-percent decline for the offense of arson, and the West had a 3.6-percent decline.

Final crime statistics for 2003 will be available in the fall with the publication of Crime in the United States, 2003.

The complete Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report is available at the FBI’s Internet site at www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm.

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