Special Report

The Cities Where Violent Crime Is Soaring

Violent crime in the United States continues to fall. Between 2006 and 2011, the violent crime rate — including crimes such as murder, robbery and aggravated assault — in the U.S. fell 19.4%, according to from FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. But in a minority of metropolitan areas, violent crime has been on the rise. In 24 metro areas, violent crime increased at least 10% between 2006 and 2011, and in 15 it increased by at least 20%. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 metropolitan areas with the largest increase in the rate of violent crime per 100,000 residents.

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The crime rate in these 10 metropolitan areas rose primarily due to an increase in aggravated assaults, which accounted for more than 60% of all violent crime in 2011. In all but two of the 10 metropolitan areas on the list , the growth in the aggravated assault rate was among the 10 highest of all metro areas.  In four of the metropolitan areas on this list — Redding, Calif., Manchester-Nashua, N.H., Mobile, Ala. and Pascagoula, Miss. — the rate of aggravated assaults more than doubled.

While aggravated assault contributed most to the increase in violent crime rate, murder played little, if any, role. In seven of the 10 metropolitan areas on this list, the murder rate actually declined between 2006 and 2011, similar to the nationwide trend. While in the remaining three cities the murder rate did go up, the number of murders compared to the number of overall violent crimes remained small enough and did not contribute much to the increase in the violent crime rate. In the Manchester-Nashua metro area, where the violent crime rate increased the second-most of all metro areas, the murder rate increased nearly 67% between 2006 and 2011. But out of the area’s 1,021 violent crimes in 2011, only eight were murders.

While violent crime rate has been increasing, the property crime rate actually went down in six of the 10 metropolitan areas on our list. The violent crime rate in the Pascagoula, Miss., one of the metros where violent crime is rising, rose nearly 36% between 2006 and 2011, but the property crime rate declined more than 22% over the same period. There were exceptions to this. In the Rapid City, S.D. metro area,  the property crime rate increased 19%, the sixth-highest out of more than 300 metro areas.

There are many reasons why a particular area could experience a change in violent or property crime. Bill Bales, a professor of criminology at Florida State University, noted in an interview with 24/7 Wall St. that just because there’s a report of an uptick in crime in certain areas doesn’t mean crime has increased, at least in the strictest definition. Bales explained that more people could be reporting crimes because of factors such as the formation of neighborhood watches, a more responsive police force, and even new local leadership encouraging people to report crimes.

But contrary to popular belief, the number of police officers on the streets usually isn’t a reason for the changes. “The level of police presence doesn’t really have an effect on the crime rate,” Bales said, adding that the areas where the officers are deployed usually makes more of an impact.

Based on data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the metropolitan areas with the highest increase in violent crime between 2006 and 2011. The UCR measures the number of violent crimes, as well as the rate per 100,000 people for all U.S. metropolitan areas in both 2006 and 2011, along with the number and rates of different crimes categorized as violent crimes, such as murder, robbery and aggravated assault. We also reviewed property crime – which includes motor vehicle theft, burglary, and  larceny, for these metropolitan areas from the UCR. Finally, we reviewed unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for these communities.

These are the 10 metropolitan areas where violent crime is soaring.

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