Crime Trends in U.S. Cities: Year-End 2023 Update

January 2024

Ernesto Lopez
Research Specialist, Council on Criminal Justice

Bobby Boxerman
Graduate Research Assistant, University of Missouri-St. Louis


The Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ) dedicates this report to Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, who passed away on January 8, 2024. An eminent criminologist, Dr. Rosenfeld was the original lead author of CCJ’s crime trend reports, an inaugural CCJ member, and a mentor to both authors and many others. His contributions to the criminal justice field are inestimable and he will be deeply missed.


  • This study updates and supplements previous U.S. crime trends reports by the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ) with data through December 2023. It examines monthly rates at which 12 offenses are reported to law enforcement in 38 American cities. The 38 cities are not necessarily representative of all cities in the United States. The data used to measure the crime trends are subject to revision by local jurisdictions and often differ somewhat from other published data.

  • The number of homicides in the 32 study cities providing homicide data was 10% lower—representing 515 fewer homicides—in 2023 than in 2022.

  • Looking at other violent offenses, there were 3% fewer reported aggravated assaults in 2023 than in 2022 and 7% fewer gun assaults in 11 reporting cities. Reported carjacking incidents fell by 5% in 10 reporting cities but robberies and domestic violence incidents each rose 2%.

  • Among property crimes, reports of residential burglaries (-3%), nonresidential burglaries (-7%), and larcenies (-4%) all decreased in 2023 compared to 2022. The number of drug offenses increased by 4% over the same period.

  • Motor vehicle theft, a crime that has been on the rise since the summer of 2020, continued its upward trajectory through 2023. There were 29% more reported motor vehicle thefts in 2023 than in 2022.

  • Most violent offenses remained elevated in 2023 compared to 2019, the year prior to the outbreak of COVID and the widespread social unrest of 2020. There were 18% more homicides in the study cities in 2023 than in 2019, and carjacking has spiked by 93% during that period.
  • Property crime trends have been more mixed. There were fewer residential burglaries and larcenies and more nonresidential burglaries in 2023 than in 2019. Motor vehicle thefts more than doubled (+105%) during this timeframe, while drug crimes fell by 27%. A dashboard of all crime rates and percent changes from 2019 to 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 is located at the end of this report.

  • Overall, crime rates are largely returning to pre-COVID levels as the nation distances itself from the height of the pandemic, but there are notable exceptions. While decreases in homicide in the study cities (and many other cities) are promising, the progress is uneven and other sources of crime information, including household surveys of violent victimization, indicate higher rates and more pronounced shifts than reports to law enforcement agencies.

  • The variance in trends now requires leaders to shift attention from broad national explanations to local factors. It is essential to identify what’s driving crime in local communities and what law enforcement and community interventions, as well as other efforts and forces, may be having impact.

  • Even in cities where homicide has returned to pre-2020 levels, it is still intolerably high, with some 20,000 lives lost to intentional violence last year. Other trends, such as motor vehicle theft and carjacking, also merit significant attention. Motor vehicle theft, for instance, is considered a “keystone” crime because stolen vehicles are often used in the commission of a robbery, drive-by shooting, or other violent offense. For these reasons and to achieve long-term reductions, local, state, and federal governments, along with communities and industries, must invest in evidence-based crime prevention efforts.

Figure 1. Percent Change in Offenses, 2019–2023

This report was produced with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Arnold Ventures, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, Southern Company Foundation, and Stand Together Trust, as well the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and other CCJ general operating contributors.


This report updates CCJ’s previous studies of crime changes that began during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, extending the analyses with data through December 2023. The 38 cities included in this study were selected based on the availability of data at the time of data collection (see the Appendix for full list). They range from Syracuse, NY, the smallest, with about 142,000 residents, to New York City, the largest, with more than 8.4 million residents. The mean population of the cities for which crime data were available is approximately 924,000, while the median population is roughly 533,000.

The report assesses monthly changes between 2018 and 2023 for 12 crimes: homicide, aggravated assault, gun assault, domestic violence, robbery, carjacking, residential burglary, nonresidential burglary, larceny, shoplifting, motor vehicle theft, and drug offenses. As in previous reports, special attention is given to the trend in homicides.

Crime data for the report were obtained from online portals of city police departments that provided monthly incident-level data for the period between January 2018 and December 2023. Offense counts were converted to monthly crime rates per 100,000 city residents for analysis of monthly trends. Offense classifications varied somewhat across the cities, and not all cities reported data for each crime. The number of cities reporting crime data ranged from a high of 34 for motor vehicle theft to a low of ten for carjacking. (See the Appendix for a list of which offenses are included for which cities.)

The crime incident data for this report were obtained within days of the end of the study period to provide a timely snapshot of crime across the nation1. As a result, these figures may-and often do-differ from data subsequently published by individual police departments. The findings also may differ from other counts released later by the FBI as part of its national crime reporting program. In addition, they may differ from those in previous CCJ reports because they are based on a different number and mix of cities. Finally, some offenses are excluded if there is a significant difference between the incident data collected and other published numbers. As such, the data in this report should be viewed as preliminary. Overall, the city sample used for this report is not necessarily representative of all large American cities or the nation as a whole. It is also important to recognize that many offenses are not reported to law enforcement.

Note: Rape and sexual assault are not included in this report because it relies on incident-level data, and many jurisdictions exclude these offenses in such data to protect victim identities. The most recent national figures on rape and sexual assault can be found using the Uniform Crime Report or the National Crime Victimization Survey.

Efforts to compile crime data continued through January 12, 2024. Cities that had not posted December 2023 crime data on their websites by that date could not be included in this report.




This study is the twelfth in a series of reports for CCJ exploring crime patterns since the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic and establishment of the Council’s National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice. Updating the earlier analyses, this study reveals both increases and decreases in crime rates in a sample of U.S. cities through December 2023.

Overall, the findings suggest that most offenses in the sample cities are bending back toward 2019 levels, though some are not. Homicide, the most serious of the crimes, has yet to fully recede but, except in some cities, is trending in the right direction. Likewise, aggravated assaults and gun assaults declined last year but remain above 2019 levels, with gun assaults 32% higher than before the pandemic.

Though the homicide trends are encouraging, fatal and non-fatal violence continue to warrant significant attention from policymakers. Even if the homicide rate were to fall back to pre-pandemic levels, the 2019 level (5.0 per 100,000 U.S. residents) was 15% higher than the 2014 rate (4.4 per 100,000), which was the lowest since World War II3. While a 5.0 per 100,000 homicide rate is roughly half the modern peak of 9.8 recorded in 1991, this progress is of little comfort to families who lose loved ones to violence.

Moreover, returning to 2019 levels is far from guaranteed. As noted in a prior Council report, the homicide rate was 32.5% higher in the first two months of 2020 compared to 2019, before COVID-19 restrictions and summer protests. The United States must not accept crime levels that kill and wound thousands of people each year—lives that can be protected and saved through effective violence-reduction strategies. CCJ's Violent Crime Working Group produced a menu of such strategies in its Ten Essential Actions report, which served as the foundation of the Violent Crime Reduction Roadmap published in December 2023 by the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs.

Motor vehicle theft continues to stand out because of its startling upward trajectory, with rates well above pre-2020 levels and continuing to rise in 2023. Much of this increase is likely the result of thefts of certain Kia and Hyundai models, which lack a key security feature making them vulnerable to theft. While motor vehicle theft rates were already on the rise before these vehicles became popular targets, the increases over the last two years dwarf the 2020 increase. As with motor vehicle thefts, carjackings have increased from 2019 levels, though there was a reversal of that trend and slight drop from 2022 to 2023.

The remaining crimes covered in this analysis are either below or approximately at 2019 levels. The most notable declines were seen for residential burglary and drug offenses. Reported incidents of shoplifting, a crime that received enormous attention in state legislatures, Congress, and the media in 2023, dropped abruptly early in the pandemic but increased from 2022 to 2023. The rise in shoplifting and robberies, offenses committed to acquire money or property, could reflect a return to normal living conditions and daily routines, which increased the opportunities to commit certain types of offenses. The sustained decrease in drug offenses requires additional investigation.

In short, crime trends do not occur in isolation from broader social and economic forces but neither are they immune from short-term intervention. There are multiple strategies that do not require new laws or large new public expenditures that can reliably and sustainably reduce crime. Leaders in the public and private sectors should redouble their efforts to implement these approaches.

LaFree, G. D. (1998). Losing legitimacy: Street crime and the decline of social institutions in America. Westview.

Offense Dashboards

Figure 19. Monthly Crime Trends by Type and City, 2018-2023

Figure 20. Percent Change in Crime from 2019 and Annual Rates, 2019-2023



1 - Homicide
2 - Aggravated Assault
3 - Gun Assault
4 - Domestic Violence
5 - Robbery
6 - Carjacking
7 - Residential Burglary
8 - Nonresidential Burglary
9 - Larceny
10 - Shoplifting
11 - Motor Vehicle Theft
12 - Drug Offenses

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Albuquerque NM X
Arlington TX X X X X X
Atlanta GA X X X X
Austin TX X X X X X X X X X X
Baltimore MD X X X X X X X
Boston MA X X X X X X
Buffalo NY X X X X
Chandler AZ X X X X X X X X X X X
Charlotte NC X X X X X X X X
Chattanooga TN X X X X X X X
Chicago IL X X X X X X X X X X X X
Cincinnati OH X X X X X X
Colorado Springs CO X X X X X X X X X X X X
Dallas TX X X X X X X X
Denver CO X X X X X X X X X X
Detroit MI X X X X X X
Jacksonville FL X
Lincoln NE X X X X X X X X
Little Rock AR X X X X X X
Los Angeles CA X X X X X X X X X
Memphis TN X X X X X X X X X X
Minneapolis MN X X X X X X X
Nashville-Davidson TN X X X X X X X X
New York NY X X
Norfolk VA X X X X X X X X X X
Omaha NE X X X X X X X
Philadelphia PA X X X X X X X X
Phoenix AZ X X X X X X X X
Raleigh NC X X X X X X X X X
Richmond VA X X X X
Rochester NY X X X X X
San Francisco CA X X X X X X X X X X
Seattle WA X X X X X X X
St. Louis MO X X X X X X X
St. Paul MN X X X X X X X X X
St. Petersburg FL X X X X X X X X X
Syracuse* NY X X X X X
Washington DC X X X X X X X
TOTAL 32 25 11 13 33 10 18 18 32 25 34 21

*Syracuse reported zero homicides in 2020 in their open data source; therefore, data for 2020 are not included here.