Violent crime in the United States rose for the second year in a row, indicating that the nation's two-decade decline in crime has ended, reported the USA Today.
The 2012 National Crime Victimization Survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 26 of every 1,000 people experienced violent crime, a 15% increase in how many people reported being victims of rape, robbery or assault. Property crime — burglary, theft and car theft — rose 12%.
"We've plateaued. At this point, I don't think we're going to see any more decreases in crime," criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University told the USA Today. "The challenge will be making sure crime rates don't go back up."
The report follows the FBI's 2012 Uniform Crime Report, released in September, which documented more than 1.2 million violent crimes nationwide — about 1% more than in 2011. For 2011, data from the victims survey also showed an increase in violent crime: up 17% from 2010, the sharpest rise in two decades.
The victimization survey, which collects data from 162,940 people over age 12, found that 26 of every 1,000 people were victims of crime in 2012, up from 23 in 2011. Most of the increase is made up of simple assaults and crimes that were not reported to police. That information is not included in the Uniform Crime Report, which is considered the definitive measure of crime in the United States.
Taken together, the figures indicate a slight shift in direction, said James Lynch, chairman of the University of Maryland's criminology and criminal justice department.
"It's not exactly a crime wave. It's more like a flattening out," Lynch told the USA Today. "I don't see this as terribly alarming, but more as something to pay attention to."
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