Reported property crime is at a 20-year low despite the sour economy, a trend police credit in part to better technology that helps identify patterns of crime in particular neighborhoods, reports USA Today. The FBI compiled 9.3 million property crime reports last year, down from a high of 13 million in 1991. Growing use of technology once accessible only to a few large agencies allows real-time analyses of burglaries, petty thefts, and car thefts. Departments can redeploy officers to “hot spots” to stop potential crime sprees.
Declines in both property and violent-crime reports surprise some analysts, who expected that high unemployment and cuts to police departments would spur increases in crime. In a survey of 23 major and midsized cities that Carnegie-Mellon University criminologist Alfred Blumstein has tracked for five years, murder declined in 19 of the cities in 2009, while robbery was down in 21. Richard Rosenfeld, president of the American Society of Criminology, says policing strategies generally have a “limited” impact on crime. He says crime rates could have softened because the recent financial downturn was not accompanied by high inflation.