Local News

FBI: Violent crime in NC more prevalent than US average

For the first time in 13 years, North Carolina's violent crime rate is higher than the national rate.

Posted Updated

Ali Ingersoll
, WRAL investigative data journalist
RALEIGH, N.C. — For the first time in 13 years, North Carolina’s violent crime rate is higher than the national rate.
Data released Monday by the FBI show more than 44,000 violent crimes were reported last year in North Carolina, an 11.8 percent increase from 2019. That's more than double the nationwide increase.

Homicides and assaults drove that statewide increase, as the number of reported rapes and robberies both went down.

"It was the crimes of pure violence," said Philip Cook, a criminologist and retired Duke University professor.

About 419 violent incidents were reported per every 100,000 North Carolina residents, compared with 398 per 100,000 people nationwide. While the state's violent crime rate has increased, it is significantly lower than what it was in the early 1990s, when more than 680 incidents were reported per 100,000 residents.

There were 852 homicides in North Carolina last year. Only 7% of those murders were reported to Raleigh and Durham police, according to information analyzed by our data trackers. Overall, these types of deaths make up about 2 percent of all violent crimes in the state, but, statewide, they jumped 30 percent from 2019 – the second highest year-over-year increase in the last 40 years.

"I think no one has a clear answer to just what happened," Cook said. "All we know is that it was unprecedented and it was devastating."

It’s easier to figure out why property crimes, such as burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft, dropped by 6 percent, he said, citing lack of opportunity for the decline. Still, he said, he is surprised that the trends for violent and property crime don’t mirror each other.

"It's a head-scratcher," he said.

About 30 percent of police agencies in the state didn’t provide data to the FBI for the annual report. But those that did cover 90 percent of the state’s population.


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