Section II - Crime Index



Crime Index



The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program's Crime Index is composed of selected offenses used to gauge fluctuations in the volume and rate of crime reported to law enforcement. The UCR Crime Index was first recommended to the FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover in the report Uniform Crime Reporting: Report of the Consultant Committee (September 1958). This recommendation was accepted by the FBI and the term Crime Index first appeared in Crime in the United States, 1960.

The offenses selected to make up the Crime Index were the Part I crimes-the violent crimes of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault and the property crimes of burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft. These crimes were considered by experts of the time to be the most serious and the most commonly reported crimes occurring in the Nation. The UCR Program created the Modified Crime Index to include arson, which was added to the Program in 1979 by congressional mandate. The definition of these offenses can be found in Appendix II of this report.

Rate per 100,000 Year Number of offenses inhabitants 2001 11,876,669 4,162.6 2002 11,877,218 4,118.8

Percent change * -1.1 *Less than one-tenth of 1 percent

Figure 2.2

Crime Index

Percent Change from 1998

National Volume, Trends, and Rates

Nationally, the 2002 Crime Index, with an estimated 11,877,218 offenses, rose by less than one-tenth of a percent when compared to the 2001 Index. Five- and 10-year trend data showed that in 2002 the Crime Index was 4.9 percent lower than the estimate from 1998 and 16.0 percent below the 1993 estimate. The Crime Index for 2002 was comprised of 12.0 percent violent crime and 88.0 percent property crime. The offense of larceny-theft accounted for the greatest part of the Crime Index, 59.4 percent. Murder, the least often committed crime in the Index, contributed slightly more than one-tenth of a percent to the total.

The Crime Index rate, which reflects the number of Index offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, for the Nation was 4,118.8. Two-, 5-, and 10-year trend data indicated that in 2002 this rate represented a 1.1 percent decrease over the 2001 Crime Index rate, a 10.9 percent drop from the rate in 1998, and a 24.9 percent decline from the estimated rate for 1993. (See Table 1.) CRIME INDEX OFFENSES REPORTED 9

Community Types

The UCR Program defines three community types: Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), cities outside the MSAs, and rural counties which are discussed in detail in Appendix III of this report. MSAs are comprised of a central city of at least 50,000 people, the county in which the city is located, and any other adjacent counties with solid economic or social links to the central city and county. In 2002, 80 percent of the U.S. population lived within an MSA. MSAs as a community type posted an estimated Crime Index rate of 4,409.1 offenses per 100,000 people. Cities outside the MSAs, accounting for 8 percent of the Nation's inhabitants, experienced a Crime Index rate of 4,524.0. Rural counties, with 12 percent of the country's population, had an estimated Crime Index rate of 1,908.7 per 100,000 inhabitants. (See Table 2.)

Regional Offense Trends and Rates

The UCR Program divides the Nation into four regional areas: the Northeast, the South, the Midwest, and the West. (A map depicting the regions and divisions of the United States is presented in Appendix III.) The characteristics of the 2002 Crime Index in the regions of the Nation were as follows:

The Northeast

The Northeastern Region, which comprised 18.8 percent of the Nation's population, accounted for an estimated 13.2 percent of the Crime Index offenses committed. This reflected a 3.2 percent decrease in offenses compared to the 2001 estimate. This region experienced an estimated rate of 2,889.0 Crime Index offenses per 100,000 in population. In 2002, this was the lowest rate of occurrence among the four regions. (See Tables 3 and 4.)

The Midwest

The region of the Midwest, home to 22.6 percent of the U.S. population, had an estimated 21.3 percent of the Crime Index offenses committed, a 1.9 percent decrease from 2001. The Midwest had an estimated Crime Index rate of 3,883.1 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants. (See Tables 3 and 4.)

The South

The South, with 35.8 percent of the country's inhabitants, was the region with the most population. Accordingly, it also had the highest volume of Crime Index offenses, an estimated 41.1 percent. This was a 0.1 percent rise in offenses compared to the 2001. The rate of Crime Index offenses per 100,000 individuals in the Southern region was 4,721.9, the highest estimated rate among the regions. (See Tables 3 and 4.)

The West

The West, with 22.8 percent of the population of the United States in 2002, registered an estimated 24.4 percent of Crime Index offenses. A two-year trend (2001-2002) showed a 3.3 percent increase that was the largest increase among of the four regions. An examination of the Crime Index rate showed 4,418.8 offenses per 100,000 people. (See Tables 3 and 4.)

Population Groups: Trends and Rates

Population groups in the UCR Program are comprised of city designations, aggregated by population, plus suburban and rural counties. Nationally, cities as a whole experienced a 0.5 percent decrease in offenses making up the Crime Index. A review of the Crime Index within population groups in 2002 revealed that cities with populations 250,000 to 499,999 had the largest decrease at 1.8 percent. Slight increases in the Crime Index occurred in both cities with a population range of 100,000 to 249,999 (0.8 percent) and cities with 50,000 to 99,999 inhabitants (0.6 percent). Both suburban and rural counties counted increases in the Crime Index of 1.0 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively. (See Table 12.) Collectively, U.S. cities reported a Crime Index rate of 5,047.2 offenses per 100,000 persons. The Nation's largest cities, those with populations of 250,000 and over, had the highest rate, 6,243.3 per 100,000. Among city agencies, smaller cities-those with a population of 10,000 to 24,999-reported the lowest Crime Index rate of 3,837.2 per 100,000 persons. Suburban counties had a rate of 3,047.4 Crime Index offenses per 100,000 individuals and rural counties, a rate of 2,054.8. (See Table 16.)


An offense is cleared by UCR standards when an arrest is made and charges have been brought against the arrestee. A clearance by exceptional means can also be made when the offender has been identified and located and there is enough evidence to support an arrest, but conditions beyond the control of law enforcement preclude arresting, charging, and prosecuting the offender. Additionally, if an offender under the age of 18 is cited to appear before juvenile authorities, the UCR Program accepts that incident as cleared by arrest, even though a physical arrest may not have occurred. (More information about clearances can be obtained in Section III of this report.) In the United States in 2002, 20.0 percent of all Crime Index offenses were cleared by arrest or exceptional means. Within those offenses, 46.8 percent of violent crime and 16.5 percent of property crime were cleared. Murder, the most serious offense in the Index,

Table 2.1

Crime Index by Month

Percent Distribution, 1998-2002

Month 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002

January 8.5 8.0 7.8 7.8 8.2 February 7.5 7.2 7.3 6.8 7.0 March 8.2 8.0 8.1 7.8 7.8 April 8.0 7.9 7.9 7.9 8.1 May 8.4 8.4 8.6 8.5 8.5 June 8.5 8.6 8.6 8.5 8.4 July 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.1 9.2 August 9.0 9.2 9.2 9.1 9.1 September 8.4 8.5 8.5 8.5 8.7 October 8.5 8.7 8.8 9.2 8.8 November 7.8 8.2 8.1 8.5 8.0 December 8.2 8.4 8.0 8.5 8.2

10 CRIME IN THE UNITED STATES had the largest percentage of offenses cleared (64.0 percent), and burglary had the smallest percentage of cleared offenses (13.0 percent). (See Table 25.)

Clearances and Juveniles

Of all the Crime Index offenses cleared in 2002, 18.0 percent involved only persons under 18 years of age. (According to UCR guidelines, any clearance that involves both adults and juveniles is listed as an adult clearance.) A study of clearances among juveniles revealed that persons under age 18 accounted for 11.9 percent of violent crime clearances and 20.3 percent of property crime clearances. In 2002, as in previous years, the single offense that demonstrated the largest percentage of clearances involving juveniles was the Modified Crime Index offense of arson at 43.0 percent, followed by the Crime Index offense of larceny-theft at 21.2 percent. (See Table 28.)


Total Arrests

The Nation's law enforcement made an estimated 2,234,464 arrests for Crime Index offenses, including arrests for arson, in 2002. This represented an estimated 16.3 percent of the total number of arrests made. (See Table 29.) The arrest rate for Crime Index offenses was 788.4 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants. This figure reflected a violent crime arrest rate of 217.9 and a property crime arrest rate (including arson) of 570.5 arrests per 100,000 persons. (See Table 30.) The Nation's four regions experienced the following arrest rates for Crime Index offenses per 100,000 persons: the West recorded an arrest rate of 871.9; the South posted a rate of 790.0; the Midwest reported a rate of 777.2; and the Northeast had a rate of 658.5 arrests per 100,000 population. (See Table 30.) A review of arrests within UCR population groups revealed that the Nation's largest cities, those with more than 250,000 inhabitants, recorded the highest arrest rate for Crime Index offenses at 1,069.9 per 100,000 persons. Smaller cities, those with a population range of 10,000 to 24,999, reported the lowest Crime Index arrest rate among city agencies at 791.6 per 100,000 inhabitants. Suburban counties had an arrest rate of 528.7, and rural counties had a rate of 413.2 Crime Index arrests per 100,000 individuals. (See...

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