2021 Residential Crime Rates Are Down 27 Percent Since Last Year

The number of reported burglaries, thefts, and assaults have decreased even as people return to their normal routines outside the home.

By: SafeHome.org Research | Published: Oct 7, 2021

The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently released its 2020 crime data, which revealed that while murder rates rose sharply between 2019 and 2020,1 rates of residential crimes declined over the same period.

But have last year’s promising residential crime trends continued into 2021? 

To get a snapshot of crime today, we compiled tens of thousands of crime incident reports from more than 200 law enforcement agencies across the United States. Our data revealed that between August 2020 and June 2021, burglary, theft, assault, battery, and automobile crimes have continued to decline.

This analysis is a follow up to our May 2020 crime report that revealed that residential crime dropped between January and March as millions of Americans started staying home. But even now, as life is beginning to return to normal, our homes might be becoming safer than ever.

Key findings:

  • Residential crimes decreased 27 percent between August 2020 and June 2021.
  • Although burglary and theft were the most common residential crimes, reports of incidents occurring at residential properties decreased by 10 percent between August 2020 and June 2021.
  • Non-residential crime reports also declined about 28 percent over the same period. The most common locations included parking lots or garages, retailers, and roadways. 

Burglary And Theft Are Top Residential Crimes

Every month so far in 2021 has had a lower residential crime total than the last five months of 2020. Burglary and theft were the most common residential crimes, accounting for about 40 percent of all residential crimes since August 2020. Auto theft was the second most common residential crime, among types where a specific criminal complaint was known, accounting for about 12 percent of crimes at residences.

All types of residential crimes have declined over the past year, according to the law enforcement agencies from which we collected data. Combined, residential crime has dropped by 27 percent since August 2020, while assault and battery has dropped the most among major types of crimes, falling by 29 percent. 

This excludes domestic crimes, which are notoriously difficult to study, as many victims choose not to report their abuse. Last year, our data indicated that domestic violence was on the rise, which is supported by broader violence research. For example, calls to domestic violence hotlines increased during the pandemic, as quarantine and lockdown orders were issued.2 The law enforcement agencies covered in our research reported fewer incidents of domestic violence since August, but given broader societal trends, this could be due to a lack of reporting.

Percentage change in residential crime reports

Crime category

Change between August 2020 and June 2021

Burglary and theft

-10%

Assault and battery

-29%

Auto

-27%

Other

-43%

All residential crime

-27%

Residential automobile crimes, which include grand theft auto, unauthorized use, and parts theft, dropped by 27 percent. Burglary and theft, the most common type of residential crime, declined the least, indicating that it’s likely to remain a problem for homeowners and renters. 

Non-Residential Crimes Are Declining

Similar to the decline in residential crime, non-residential crime reports have also fallen by about 28 percent, according to the law enforcement agencies included in our research. In part, a dropping poverty rate may be contributing to a reduction in crime: more people have returned to work as businesses have reopened. Thanks to federal pandemic aid, the poverty rate in the U.S. is down to about eight percent from nearly 14 percent in 2018.3

The number of crimes taking place in streets and alleys dropped by nearly one-third between August 2020 and June 2021. The number of crimes taking place inside restaurants was almost cut in half. However, the number of crimes occurring in lounges and bars as well as hotels and inns increased as people resumed travel and nightlife activities.

Top ten crime locations, August 2020-June 2021

Location

Percent of crimes

Residence

27%

Carport, garage, or parking lot

9%

Retailer

9%

Street/alley

8%

Other business

2%

Gas station

2%

Restaurant

1%

Outdoor or natural area

1%

Hotel, motel, or inn

1%

Other/unknown

34%

Among crimes with known locations, the most common sports for crimes are residences, stores, parking structures, and streets or alleys.

Conclusion

While crime is an unfortunate aspect of life, there are many indications that residential crime rates are headed in a positive direction. Even as more people head back to physical offices and children head back to school, leaving homes vacant for most of the day, these crimes are continuing to drop. But regardless of these rate changes, care and vigilance are still critical, particularly when it comes to making sure your home isn’t an easy target for crime. 

About this data

We compiled more than 140,000 crime incidents from 200-plus law enforcement agencies across the country, from July 2020 through July 2021, categorizing the incidents by type, location, and time of day in which they were reported. Explore the interactive map above to see the agencies that were included in our research. Our data is not comprehensive of all law enforcement agencies or crime reports. It also does not account for crimes that go unreported.

Residential crimes included assault, battery, sex crimes, grand theft auto, unauthorized use of a vehicle, and vehicle parts theft, breaking and entering, burglary, theft, larceny, arson, child neglect, destruction of property, false imprisonment, kidnapping, menacing, murder, threats, weapon offenses, and other offenses taking place at residences. Non-residential crimes included all reports that did not take place in a residence,

References

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/sep/27/us-murder-rate-increase-2020
  2. https://theconversation.com/domestic-violence-calls-for-help-increased-during-the-pandemic-but-the-answers-havent-gotten-any-easier-156683
  3. https://www.npr.org/2021/07/31/1023243870/federal-pandemic-aid-has-cut-poverty-dramatically-study-finds

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