The lighter side of real estate

These Surprising Maps Show How Crime In America Has Changed Over The Last Decade

There’s good news for some states, bad news for others, and some crime-rate surprises in places you’d never expect.

Laura Allan

112 articles, 1 comments

These Surprising Maps Show How Crime In America Has Changed Over The Last Decade

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Things can really change over the years, and that includes a place’s safety.

Population grows, police forces change hands, new regulations are put into practice… there are a multitude of factors that can cause the crime rate to soar or plummet, no matter where you live. This can be seen fairly easily when it comes to state crime statistics in particular.

Here at the Movoto Real Estate Blog, we’re all about analyzing data, so it was an obvious choice to look into how much crime rates have changed in each state over the last 10 years. Using FBI Uniform Crime Reports, we compiled enough data to see how crime has fluctuated across the United States.

If you want to know more about how we created these maps, you can check the methodology section at the end of this article for additional information. For now, though, let’s discuss some interesting things we found out about crime over the last decade.

The National Average Is Actually Dropping

With the news always talking about major crimes and tragedies across America, you might think that crime is only getting worse. Actually, after looking at the numbers, we found that the national average of crimes per 100,000 people has been dropping steadily for a decade.

In fact, in 2004, there were 3,824.34 crimes per 100,000 people on average in the U.S. For the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report in 2013, there was over a 20 percent decrease in crime compared to just 10 years prior.

This is great news, not just for the nation, but for many states in particular.

Things Really Are Getting Better

A few states stood out more than others in our analysis as spots that have greatly improved since 2004.

Arizona had the worst crime in comparison to the national average that first year, but has made great strides in becoming less dangerous. To be precise, Arizona had 2020.66 crimes per 100,000 people more than the national average in 2004, but that number decreased almost 62 percent by 2013. That’s still not an outstanding score, but it is a marked improvement.

Nevada has also been trending for the better, with about a 60 percent decrease in crime from 2004 to 2013. It even scored safer than the national average in 2011.

Tennessee, Florida, and Texas all show steady improvement since 10 years ago as well.

Wyoming and Idaho have also been getting steadily safer over the last decade, but they were both already pretty safe to begin with.

These Surprising Maps Show How Crime In America Has Changed Over The Last Decade

There Are Always Problem Spots

Of course, not every state fared so well over the decade. New Mexico got more dangerous from 2004 to 2013, by about 20 percent. Arkansas also went from somewhat dangerous to very dangerous, with a 47 percent increase in crime by 2013.

Although some places stayed generally safe, there were a few spots trending towards the more dangerous side of things. South Dakota in particular declined over the last decade, though it still remained quite safe, with a 52 percent increase in crime. North Dakota saw a similar trend.

New York, also often thought of as dangerous despite its generally safe stats, also started the decade on a high note with many fewer crimes than the national average in 2004, but has seen a slight decline, with about a 30 percent rise in crime by 2013.

The Ups And The Downs

There were a few states that stayed fairly consistent, like South Carolina (consistently high in crime) or Virginia (consistently low in crime).

Interestingly enough, there were a few states that had a bit of a rollercoaster ride when it came to stats.

One of the most fascinating was Washington, which had high crime in 2004, improved to having much less crime in 2008, and had much more crime in 2013. Utah did something similar, with their low crime year being in 2010.

Oregon actually managed to score below the national average in crime in 2009, despite having over the national average in every other year, many times by a long shot. Michigan even jumped between having more crime than average and less crime than average every few years.

The Times They Are A-Changing

As the maps show, crime rates don’t stay steady in most states. A place that is dangerous now might be one of the safer places in only a decade. Who knows what the next 10 years will hold?

No matter the reason for these changes, we understand that safety is an important part of choosing a place to live. We sell houses, after all, and we might just know a place or two that’s safe enough to suit your comfort level when picking your next home.

(click table to enlarge)

These Surprising Maps Show How Crime In America Has Changed Over The Last Decade

Our Methodology

In order to create this ranking, we turned to the FBI Uniform Crime Report for every year in the last decade (2004-2013). We collected all reported crimes for each state, and then calculated how many crimes that would be per 100,000 people.

From there, we averaged each years crimes together to find a national average (we excluded Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico). We then found how much higher or lower each state’s crimes were as compared to the national average each year.

Lastly, we color coded each state, red for more crime, green for less crime, in order to create the heat map you see above. Through that, you can compare years side by side to see which places were the most dangerous, and to see how things have changed over the years.

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posted on: August 15, 2015
407,930 views, 23 comments


  1. jd1958

    With all the problems escalating in this world. GET A GUN. LEARN HOW TO USE IT. “REMEMBER” This statement as told to me by my attorney. IF YOU EVER HAVE TO USE A GUN; “REMEMBER” “I WAS IN FEAR FOR MY LIFE. I WANT TO SPEAK TO AN ATTORNERY.” SAY “N O T H I N G ELSE!!!!!”

  2. rob

    Using an entire state as a basis makes this information questionable at best. One city of area can make or break the state.

  3. Delores Moyer

    Is it true that the statistics show lower rates now than, say 1-15 years ago as the gov’t use to keep statistics based on number of crimes and should someone commit 3 crimes (i.e., robbery, murder and selling illegal drugs) it would be counted as 3 and the gov’t redefined these statistics based on people vs. #crimes and, this same set of crimes would now be counted as 1 as based on the number of people committing these 3 crimes so now the statistics show a decline vs. possibly even an increase?? Please explain.

  4. Vicki Vance

    To the author

    I’m African-American, and I resent the implications of your very superficial report.

  5. Robert Hall

    Using crime rates per 100,000 works at the state level, but who moves to a whole state? At the neighborhood level, it’s much more effective to use actual crime numbers, rather than the rate. In my city, for example, there are communities with large areas of commercial and retail space, and few homes. The crime rates for those areas seem high, but truly aren’t. A relatively small number of car burglaries at the shopping malls, divided by the population generates a high crime rate per capita, even though the people who live in the nearby condos and apartments are virtually never victims of crime. It’s nice to know that my state’s light pink (slightly less safe), but it really doesn’t impact anyone’s decision to move here.

  6. Ur mom

    Who really gives a F$&@ what someone writes about the most violent states? Somebody had nothing better to write about and this is your ignorant reactions. Sounds like to many democraps. Worry about the last 6 years and stop trying to fix the future it’s not been destroyed 😉 GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!!

  7. Chris

    map creator seems to be intentionally trying to mislead readers (for what agenda is unknown) the source of the data, the FBI, has a caution statement listed on their site which is shown prior to gaining access to the raw data. It reads, “Each year when Crime in the United States is published, some entities use reported figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. These rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, or region. Consequently, they lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents. Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction. The data user is, therefore, cautioned against comparing statistical data of individual reporting units from cities, metropolitan areas, states, or colleges or universities solely on the basis of their population coverage or student enrollment.”

  8. DW

    A color blind person cannot read this map AT ALL. You should add written information on top of the states indicating changes or something.

  9. Patrick Henry

    Seems to me where the most Illegals entered and inner city minorities are, have the most crime. Have to avoid those places for the “pursuit of happiness”, they will turn more into hell-holes.

  10. Dan Williams

    VT and NH – most liberal gun laws(ie almost NO gun laws) in the country – and low-crime. That’s how it works people.

  11. dale

    ok good news but im more interested in what types of crimes?

  12. NicholeB

    I find this map interesting when compared with state by state gun laws – as well as by historical political dominance. Let’s just say that the it’s statistically safer to to be blue.

  13. Richard Lain

    I think your assessment of the crime rate in Illinois is predominantly false. Depending who you listen to the petty crime rate may be slower but the muggings, shootings, and deaths have risen to alarming levels with gang rivalry and drive by shootings rising. Most folks don’t visit Chicago much due to those problems.

    Best check with your sources again (and don’t believe the Governors Office).

  14. stephon

    Looks like a blue stae and red state would match up right on the money. The Republican states have the highest crime….go figure and it starts in DC.

  15. Connie Rhoten

    Give us a map by to counties. Wa. state is a divided state. Far Left on coast. Conservative in Eastern Wa. I guarantee crime is on coast.

  16. Anon

    Its also kinda the same in Illinois as well…Chicago is hardcore liberal, but outside of Chicago its mostly conservative.

  17. Mike Crews

    You are using the UCR data in exactly the way the FBI says not to. This map is worse than meaningless, it is misleading and harmful.

    “UCR data are sometimes used to compile rankings of individual jurisdictions and institutions of higher learning. These incomplete analyses have often created misleading perceptions which adversely affect geographic entities and their residents. For this reason, the FBI has a long-standing policy against ranking participating law enforcement agencies on the basis of crime data alone. Despite repeated warnings against these practices, some data users continue to challenge and misunderstand this position.

    Data users should not rank locales because there are many factors that cause the nature and type of crime to vary from place to place. UCR statistics include only jurisdictional population figures along with reported crime, clearance, or arrest data. Rankings ignore the uniqueness of each locale.”

    “The FBI does not provide a ranking of agencies but merely alphabetical tabulations of states, metropolitan statistical areas, cities, metropolitan and nonmetropolitan counties, colleges and universities, and state, tribal, and other agencies. Since crime is a sociological phenomenon influenced by a variety of factors, the FBI discourages ranking the agencies and using the data as a measurement of law enforcement effectiveness.”

  18. Jackson

    Really? New York, Michigan and Illinois, and New Jersey are some of the safest states, while Texas and Alaska and Tennessee are considered dangerous? What kind of stats are you using?

  19. Bob

    Connie Rhoten you are fucking insane. Crime is incredibly high in Eastern Washington. FACT in 2015 there have been more murders in Eastern Washington (Pasco, Yakima and Spokanne) Then there has bee in all of Western Washington.

    FACT: More car theft and gang violence exist on the east side. Your, Left equals crime right equals no crime is utter bullshit. Right wingers are the most hateful group in existence and by extension one of the most rowdy.

    If you look at political association and domestive violence.. guess what group stands out as the woman abusers.. REPUBLICANS

  20. Steel Briar

    Iowa has always been a pretty low-crime, quiet state. Then we got this big influx of ni99ers coming in from places like Chicago and Detroit. The crime rate shot up. No more stores open all night. Shootings, robberies, scuffles at the local convenience stores. If Iowa wasn’t good enough for anyone before, it’s not good enough for them now. Stay away. Iowa doesn’t want the riff raff moving here.

  21. Jfrank44

    It looks like a direct correlation between conservative and liberal states. The more conservative a state the safer the state.

  22. Vivajohn1968

    Must’ve been looking at different map. On this map, the entire south is red. Last time I checked, the Bible Belt was on the conservative side.

  23. Jay

    I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Its a good size city, second only to Detroit in population. We have a very low crime rate here. Little Muskegon Heights has more murders than we do. Flint and Saginaw are just like Detroit, murder capital year after year. Cities like Grand Rapids are safer because there are great schools and good jobs. That is what makes the difference.


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