Murders nationwide increased nearly 15 percent in the first six months of 2020 compared with the same period last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported on Tuesday.
Aggravated assaults rose 4.6 percent during the period, but robberies were down 7.1 percent and rapes decreased 17.8 percent.
The preliminary report, based on data from 12,206 law enforcement agencies around the U.S., is the first comprehensive account of crime reports that encompass the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
FBI compilations reflect only crimes reported to law enforcement. More than 6,000 police agencies did not report their data, meaning that the totals will change when more reports come in. In fact, the bureau has not yet released its final report for 2019.
The Justice Department’s crime victimization survey, which was issued Monday for 2019, reported that only 41 percent of violent victimizations were reported to police last year. That report is based on interviews with a sample of the population on whether they had been victimized.
Violent crime reports decreased in three of the four regions of the nation this year, the FBI said. These crimes were down 4.8 percent in the northeast, 1.8 percent in the midwest, and 1.1 percent in the west. However, violent crime increased 2.5 percent in the south.
Property crime reports dropped 7.8 percent in the first six months of the year, including larcenies down 9.9 percent and burglaries down 7.8 percent. However, motor vehicle thefts rose 6.2 percent.
The results are not surprising, as many Americans have stayed mostly at home during the pandemic but have paid less attention to vehicles parked on the street.
Property crime decreased in all four regions, ranging from a 5.3 percent drop in the west to a 10.3 percent decline in the midwest.
The FBI report, as well as Monday’s victimization data, may be cited by candidates in the ongoing presidential campaign.
President Donald Trump is running on a “law and order” platform, and has warned that crime will become worse if Democrat Joe Biden is elected.
Biden is likely to respond that some categories of crime are increasing on Trump’s watch.
It is somewhat unusual for murders and other types of violent crime to be moving in opposite directions statistically.
New Orleans-based crime analysts Jeff Asher and Ben Horwitz wrote in the New York Times this summer that there have been only four years since 1960 (1993, 2000, 2002 and 2003) when murder increased but overall violent crime decreased nationally.
The increase in murder was small in each of those years. “The average absolute difference between the national change in murder and violent crime since 1990 has been just 2.2 percent, so a big increase in murder nationally while violent crime falls is almost unheard-of,” Asher and Horwitz said.