A widely held belief about crime in St. Louis is that, despite its crime-rattled urban core, the metropolitan area of 2.8 million people is relatively safe. A St. Louis Post-Dispatch analysis of 2006 crime statistics shows that the metro area had at least the 15th – and perhaps as high as the 11th – highest violent crime rate of 46 U.S. metropolitan areas with at least 1 million people.
It’s hard to pinpoin because the so-called “uniform crime reports” here aren't uniform. Greater St. Louis straddles two states that tally crimes in different ways, rendering totals that can't be added. As a result, perhaps no U.S. metropolitan area has a blurrier picture of crime. Illinois has its own crime counting system, one that is compatible with no other state. Most states follow an FBI guideline called the “hierarchy rule” to count just the most serious crime when several are committed in the same incident. Most of Illinois tallies each offense. The FBI plays it safe by rejecting Illinois crime stats. Illinois' crime reporting isn't uniform even within the state. Police in its biggest city, Chicago, do follow the FBI's hierarchy rule, counting each incident as just one crime.