Crime in North Carolina

North Carolina's crime rate

There were 298,189 crimes reported in North Carolina in 2018, the most recent year crime data is available. Adjusted for population, North Carolina's crime rate is 2,872 crimes per 100,000 residents.

How does North Carolina compare?

Crime is more common in North Carolina than it is on average nationwide. By comparison, the national crime rate of 2,580 per 100,000 people is 10% lower. Of the 50 states, 17 have a higher crime rate than North Carolina.

Crime rates nationwide range from 1,422 per 100,000 in New Hampshire to 4,276 per 100,000 in New Mexico, the states with the lowest and highest crime rates, respectively.

Here are the crime rates for all 50 states.

What types of crimes are being committed?

The FBI's crime rate includes seven crime categories: three property crimes -- larceny, burglary, and motor vehicle theft, and four violent crimes -- aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder.

Property crime

The vast majority of crimes in America are property crimes, accounting for 85% of total crimes in 2018. This share was slightly higher in North Carolina, with property crimes accounting for 87% of all crimes reported in the state.

There were 258,979 property crimes reported in North Carolina in 2018, or 2,494 per 100,000 residents. This is higher than the national rate of 2,200 property crimes per 100,000 people and is the 18th highest rate of the 50 states.

Larceny

Larceny is by far the most common type of property crime. The 5,217,055 reported incidents nationwide in 2018 accounted for 72% of all property crime. North Carolina's rate of 1,724 reported larceny incidents per 100,000 residents is slightly higher than the nationwide rate of 1,595 per 100,000 and is the 21st highest among states.

Burglary

An estimated 62,290 break-ins were reported in North Carolina in 2018, or 600 per 100,000 state residents -- the sixth highest rate among states. For reference, there were an estimated 1,230,149 break-ins nationwide, or 376 break-ins per 100,000 people.

Motor vehicle theft

Across the U.S., there were 748,841 reported motor vehicle thefts in 2018, a rate of 229 per 100,000 people. North Carolina's rate of 170 motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents was lower than this national rate and the 18th lowest rate compared to all states.

Violent crime

Violent crimes make up a small share of crimes nationwide. In North Carolina, violent crimes account for just 13% of total crimes, versus 15% nationwide.

While North Carolina has the 33rd lowest total crime rate of all states, it has the 28th lowest violent crime rate. The state’s violent crime rate of 378 per 100,000 people is on par with the national rate of 381 per 100,000. There were 39,210 violent crimes reported to North Carolina law enforcement agencies in 2018.

Aggravated assault

Aggravated assault is by far the most common type of violent crime. Nationwide, there were 807,410 aggravated assaults in 2018, accounting for 65% of violent crimes across the country. In North Carolina, 27,526 aggravated assaults were reported in 2018. North Carolina's rate of aggravated assault of 265 per 100,000 people is slightly higher than the national rate of 247 per 100,000 and is the 19th highest of all states.

Robbery

Robbery is the second most common type of violent crime in America. There were 8,423 robberies reported in North Carolina in 2018, or 81 robberies for every 100,000 residents. This is slightly lower than the national rate of 86 robberies per 100,000 people, and the 16th highest robbery rate among states.

Rape

There were 2,633 reported rapes in 2018 in North Carolina. The state's rate of rape of 25.4 per 100,000 residents is much lower than the national rate of 42.6 per 100,000 people. North Carolina has the fifth lowest rate of rape.

Murder

In 2018, there were 628 murders reported to law enforcement in North Carolina. The state’s murder rate of 6.0 per 100,000 residents is higher than the national rate of 5.0 per 100,000. North Carolina's murder rate is the 15th highest in the country.

Where are these crimes being committed?

Because crime is influenced by local circumstances, crime levels vary considerably within each state. Often a state’s dense urban areas will have higher crime rates than its rural areas. Even in a state with an exceptionally low crime rate, there is often at least one area where crime rates exceed the nation.

Crime over time

National historical trend

The FBI provides access to crime data by state dating back to 1960. This nearly 60-year span, can be divided into three periods. Crime skyrocketed between 1960 and 1980, with the crime rate more than tripling in just 20 years from 1,887 crimes per 100,000 Americans to 5,950 crimes per 100,000 Americans.

Crime remained high in the 1980s and reached its second highest peak in 1991. Since that year, crime has fallen steadily nationwide, reaching its current rate of 2,580 per 100,000, a 56% decline in 27 years.

North Carolina's historical trend

In 1960, North Carolina's crime rate was 1,180 crimes per 100,000 residents. Crime peaked in the state in 1991 at 5,889 per 100,000, an increase of 399%.

Crime changes 2013-2018

Over the five years since 2013, the nationwide total crime rate has decreased by 16.8%, but this change varied dramatically between states. In New Hampshire, for example, the crime rate decreased by 43.6%, the largest decline of any state. The largest increase was in Alaska, where crime rose by 19.0% between 2013 and 2018.

With a decrease of 16.6%, North Carolina's crime rate has fallen by about the same amount as the country as a whole. The crime rate declined in 47 states over this time period, and in most of them, it declined faster than in North Carolina.

How North Carolina has compared to other states historically

Since 1960, North Carolina has had periods of both relatively high and relatively low crime rates compared to the other states. Also, the state's crime rate ranking has varied much more than most states since 1960. In fact, North Carolina has been among the 10 states with the highest crime rates and the 10 states with the lowest crime rates over the time period, one of only seven states where this was true.

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