Decline In Crime Rate Due to Property CrimesContact: Finnegan, Lisa
NEW YORK - Declining crime rates reported in major cities are not simply the result of fewer violent crimes, such as murder, robbery and assault, but of fewer property offenses, according to a study presented at a meeting of the American Psychological Society by Professor James J. Hennessy, Ph.D. and doctoral students Jennice Vilhauer, Ketrin Saud and Vincent Rao.
According to the study "Patterns of Crimes in Major American Cities, 1975-1998: Psychometric Rescaling" rape was the only crime against persons that showed substantial improvement in recent years. The study used FBI Uniform Crime Report data gathered annually for the 76 largest cities in the country.
"The other violent crimes showed either very modest or no year-to-year differences," the report states. Additionally, "changes in crime occurrences in the major cities cannot easily or correctly be described as improving as frequently asserted by government officials at national, state and local levels and by experts in the popular media."
Hennessey, who has been studying national crime statistics for 10 years, says the figures show that "The patterns of change over time are generally not as starkly evident in the data … as some suggest. The early 1990s, followed by the early 1980s, generally were the low points for most crimes … , but those lows often were not significantly below the means for 1996-1998. The claims of "dramatic" improvements in crime rates in the big cities US are not supported by the findings; where there have been notable improvements, those have been primarily in the realm of property crimes … , and influenced by great positive changes in recent years in burglary and motor vehicle theft rates."
Preliminary FBI crime figures for 1999 "suggests an increase across many cities in violent crimes, especially murder," the report notes. "At some point there may come a realization that crime, like the tides, rises and falls independent of our efforts to control them."
Founded in 1841, Fordham is New York City's Jesuit University. It has residential campuses in the north Bronx and Manhattan, as well as academic centers in Tarrytown and Armonk, N.Y.