UNIFORM CRIME REPORT: Violent Crimes and Number of Murders in
New Jersey Decreased 1 Percent in 2008
Murders continued to decline in first half of 2009
Trenton, N.J. – Attorney General Anne Milgram today released the 2008 Uniform Crime Report which shows that incidents of violent crime dropped 1 percent in 2008, the seventh consecutive year of a drop in the violent crime index. There was also another 1 percent drop in the number of murders in 2008, compared to 2007, the second consecutive year the number of murders had dropped and the lowest number of recorded murders since 2002.
The drop in the number of murders continued through the first half of this year, according to statistics compiled by the state’s 21 county prosecutors. There were 158 reported homicides in the state in the first six months of 2009, compared to 209 during the same period of 2008, which represented a 24 percent drop.
The last time the number of murders had fallen in two consecutive years was 1999, when the number of murders recorded was 287. Over the following years, the number of murders rose to 427 in 2006. But since 2006, the percentage decline in murders is 12 percent. The number of murders in 2008 was 376, the lowest reported number since 2002 when there were 341 murders reported to police. Incidents of violent crime have dropped 8.5 percent since 2005.
"Nearly two years ago, my administration launched a comprehensive plan aimed at combating violent crime in New Jersey, and the data released in this report shows that we are winning important battles in the fight against gang violence and violent crime," Governor Corzine said. "While this is progress, there is still work to be done. We will continue to do whatever it takes to protect the public and help maintain safe neighborhoods where New Jerseyans can raise their families."
“I believe the continued drop in violent crime and the reduction in the number of murders in our state demonstrate that our aggressive anti-crime campaign against street gangs, violent criminals and gun and drug trafficking is making a difference,” Attorney General Milgram said. “But our work is not done. Our goal is to continue the decline in the incidents of violent crime and reduce the number of murders for a third consecutive year.”
Non-violent crimes increased 3 percent last year, compared to 2007, but despite the increase, the total incidents of crime recorded in 2008 was the second lowest total of reported index crimes in the last 15 years.
Before the 12 percent drop in the murder rate in the last two years, murders had climbed by seven percent in 2005, compared to 2004, and increased another two percent in 2006.
The 1 percent drop in the overall number of violent crimes reported in 2008 followed a 7 percent drop in 2007 compared to 2006.
The incidents of violent crime dropped in 11 of the state’s 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Cumberland, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Morris, Passaic, Salem, and Warren.
The overall crime rate was down in six counties (Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Morris and Somerset), unchanged in two counties (Mercer and Salem), and increased in 13.
The total crime rate for the state was 26.2 victims for every 1,000 residents, compared to 25.3 in 2007. The crime rate was 26.4 victims per 1,000 residents in 2006 and 26.9 victims for every 1,000 residents in 2005. The violent crime rate was 3.3 victims per 1,000 residents in 2008, the same as 2007, which, in turn, was a drop from 3.5 victims per 1,000 residents in 2006.
Total violent crime decreased from 28,526 reported incidents to 28,281. While murders decreased to 376, reported rapes increased 6 percent from 1,029 to 1,090. Robberies increased 1 percent from 12,562 to 12,694, and aggravated assault decreased 3 percent from 14,554 reported incidents to 14,121. The number of aggravated assaults was responsible for half of all reported violent crimes.
Firearms were used in 63 percent of the reported murders. In 43 percent of the murders, the offender and victim knew each other: 32 percent were friends or acquaintances and 11 percent were family members. Twenty-one percent of all murder victims were between the ages of 25 and 29, while 17 percent were between the ages of 20 and 24, and 14 percent were between the ages of 15 and 19. Sixty-three percent of murder victims were African-American, while 34 percent were white.
There were 70,613 domestic violence offenses reported by the police in 2008, a 2 percent decrease compared to the number reported in 2007. The number of murders attributed to domestic violence circumstances was 57 in 2008, compared to 38 the previous year.
Bias-related crimes reported to police increased 8 percent in 2008, compared to 2007. There were 876 bias incident offenses reported, compared to 809. There had been 825 reported bias incidents in 2006 and 792 reported bias incidents in 2005. Criminal mischief and property damage accounted for 42 percent of the bias incidents reported in 2008, while harassment accounted for 39 percent. Racial bias accounted for 47 percent of all bias incident crimes in 2008, the same percentage as the year earlier.
Auto thefts dropped 8 percent in 2008 after dropping 11 percent in 2007, compared to 2006. Auto thefts decreased to 21,944 offenses; 67 percent of vehicles were recovered. Auto thefts have dropped each year since 2001, when it reached a peak of 34,009 stolen vehicles.
But burglary in 2008 increased 8 percent, with residential burglaries accounting for 72 percent of the total. Similarly, larceny and theft increased 4 percent after dropping the previous year.
The number of reported assaults against police officers decreased 14 percent, from 3,006 to 2,572.
The annual Uniform Crime Report is prepared by the State Police Uniform Crime Reporting Unit based on information provided by municipal, county and state law enforcement agencies. The latest report records offenses from January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2008.
A copy of the 2008 annual report is available on line at http://www.njsp.org/info/ucr2008/index.html.
The Governor’s Strategy for Safe Streets and Neighborhoods was unveiled in October 2007 after a year-long study in the Attorney General’s Office to develop new approaches to reducing violent crime. The law enforcement strategy is based on intelligence-led policing, which identifies the individuals most responsible for gang and gun-related violence, and calls for information sharing among all law enforcement agencies in the state.
The first two-phases of statewide operations against street gangs have led to the arrest of more than 4,220 individuals, including 1,136 suspected street gang members, and more than 1,647 offenders with violent criminal backgrounds. More than 570 guns have been seized, and drugs with a street value of more than $9 million have been confiscated.
The Attorney General and State Police have entered into an unprecedented partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to track the movement of illegal guns into New Jersey and prosecute gun traffickers.
The anti-crime strategy also includes prevention programs for at-risk youth and prisoner re-entry programs to cut recidivism rates.
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