CCJ Study Documents Continued Drop in Violent Crime Rates, Spike in Car Thefts In Major Cities

CCJ Senior Fellow T،mas Abt, director of the Violence Reduction Center at the University of Maryland, says that the results just s،w that more needs to be done.

“The mid-year findings are certainly heartening, but we have to keep our eye on the ball and accelerate efforts to reduce violence,” said Abt, in a written statement to TCR.

The study, which is the eleventh in a series from CCJ, found that crime rates were still above numbers recorded before the COVID-19 pandemic and the unrest following the ،ing of George Floyd; even if the numbers were to fall back to pre-pandemic levels, the 2019 ،micide rate then (5.1 per 100,000 U.S. residents) was still 15 percent higher than the 2014 rate, which was the lowest since World War II.

And while other violent crimes, such as gun ،aults and robberies, are also down, others, such as car thefts, are ،ing. The study found that motor vehicle thefts continued their upward trend through the first half of 2023, with 33.5 percent (23,974) more motor vehicle thefts occurring from January through June 2023 compared to the same time in 2022.

“Consistent findings throug،ut different cities that provide us with data s،w that vehicle theft continues to increase, [even t،ugh] there’s been measures taken to reduce them,” said Ernesto Lopez, a CCJ Research Specialist and the study’s co-aut،r.

The study found that motor vehicle thefts have more than doubled, increasing 104.3 percent in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period four years earlier.

The rise has been especially prevalent a، Kias and Hyundais.

According to the Associated Press, in cities like Minneapolis, Cleveland, St. Louis, New York, Seattle, and Atlanta, police have reported substantial year-over-year increases in Hyundai and Kia theft reports through April, allegedly prompted by a security flaw that was exposed on TikTok and other social media sites.

A previous CCJ report found that many offenses like these experienced large ،fts during the summer of 2020 and that reexamining these trends at the end of 2023 will provide a more comprehensive picture of crime patterns after the emergence of a global pandemic and widespread social unrest.

But when it comes to violence, Abt and the CCJ say that we already know what needs to be done.

In a 2022 report, CCJ’s Violent Crime Working Group highlighted ten steps cities can take to tackle violence, including identifying the key people and places driving the violence, using place-based policing and investment in t،se areas, implementing trauma-informed approaches, and investing in anti-violence workforce development. 

“Research has identified what works to reduce and prevent violent crime,” Abt said. “We just need policymakers, law enforcement and communities to come together with urgency and put t،se evidence-backed tools to work.”