Crime in Detroit and Michigan

The charts below show crime rates for the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan, per 100,000 people, according for most major offenses reported to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The rates reported for Detroit are based on reports from the Detroit Police Department, and those for the state are based on data from all reporting agencies and estimates for unreported areas in Michigan. It is important to note these are rates and thus adjust for the decline in Detroit’s population. So, any declines noted are not artifacts of decline in population. The charts address property crimes and violent crimes, with the exception of murder and non-negligent manslaughter. These will be addressed in a future Drawing Detroit post.

As will become evident, these data indicate substantial declines in crime across almost all of the categories in recent decades. This is true for both Detroit (except for aggravated assault) and Michigan.

Resources used for these charts were provided by the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting system. Detailed information can be found at and


According to the FBI forcible rape is defined as “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.  Attempts or assaults to commit rape by force or threat of force are also included; however, statutory rape (without force) and other sex offenses are excluded.”

The above chart shows Detroit’s reported forcible rape rate was consistently higher than the state’s, with the exception of the time from 2007 through 2009. In 2007 the forcible rape rate in Michigan was recorded at 45.5 per 100,000 people while Detroit’s was recorded at 38.9. Even though the forcible rape rate for the state was higher than Detroit’s in 2007, there was a decrease in the state’s rate from 2006 to 2007 (53.0 to 45.5). Detroit also saw a decrease from 2006 to 2007 (66.9 to 38.9) in its forcible rape rate. Detroit’s rate remained in the high 30’s in 2008 and 2009 while the state’s remained in the mid-40’s. However, in 2011 Detroit’s forcible rape rate increased to 59.9 and the state’s was recorded at 44.0.

**Data were unavailable for 1993 in Detroit because “data collection methodology for the offense of forcible rape used by the State Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program did not comply with national UCR Program guidelines.”


According to the FBI robbery is defined as “the taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.”

During the time period from 1985 through 2011, the reported robbery rate in Detroit had been higher than the state’s. In 1985 Detroit’s robbery rate was reported at 1,537.6 per 100,000 people while the state’s was reported at 292.4; this was the largest recorded difference from 1985 through 2011. The state’s robbery rate remained fairly steady since 1985, with a small decrease over time. Until 2005 Detroit saw a steady decline, but the rate has bounced up and down the last several years. In 2011 the robbery rate for the state was reported to be 105.2 and Detroit’s was reported at 695.7.


According to the FBI, aggravated assault is defined as “an unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury.”

The reported aggravated assault rate in Detroit increased from 1985 to 2011, despite large decreases over certain periods of time (2000-2004 and 2005-2008). In 1985 Detroit’s rate was reported at 635.0 per 100,000 people, and in 2011 it was reported at 1,333.6. Whereas, the recorded aggravated assault rape for Michigan from 1985 through 2011 was never above 472.1 (reported in 1993). In 2011 the aggravated assault rate for the state was reported at 289.9.  Since 1993 there has been some variability, but overall a slightly decreasing trend for the state.


According to the FBI, property crime “includes the offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.  The object of the theft-type offenses is the taking of money or property, but there is no force or threat of force against the victims.”

There was a decrease in the reported property crime rate for both Detroit and Michigan from 1985 to 2011. However, the state of Michigan’s rate had a more stable decrease than the City of Detroit’s rate. The state’s property crime rate decreased from 5,632.2 per 100,000 people in 1985 to 2,621.1 in 2011. From 1992 to 1996 the property crime rate in Detroit increased from 8,696.2 to 9,672.7,but starting in around 1997 a decline began, and by 2011 the rate was reported at 6,143.5.


According to the FBI burglary is defined as, “the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft.  To classify an offense as a burglary, the use of force to gain entry need not have occurred.”

The reported burglary rate in Detroit had a decreasing trend from 1985 to 2004, but this rate began increasing as the economy in Southeastern Michigan began a steep decline. Only in the last year has this shown evidence of reversing, coincident with the improvement in the economy. The highest reported burglary rate from 1985 through 2011 for Detroit was in 1985; it was reported to be 3,703.1 per 100,000 people. In 2004 the burglary rate had declined to 1,334.5, which was the lowest rate for Detroit during this time series. With some ups and downs, the rate ended up at 2,242.4 in 2011. The highest burglary rate for the state was also in 1985 when it was reported at 1,527.2, and the state’s rate decreased overall since then with a recorded rate of 724.9 in 2011.


According to the FBI, larceny theft is defined as “the unlawful taking, carrying, leading, or riding away of property from the possession or constructive possession of another.”

While the recorded larceny theft rate in the City of Detroit remained higher than the rate in the State of Michigan from 1985 through 2011, the difference between the larceny rate in Detroit and in the state was the smallest difference of all the crime rates addressed in this post. The difference between larceny theft rates was the smallest in 2005 when Detroit’s rate was 1,929.9 per 100,000 people and the state’s was 1,922.0.  In 2011 the rate for Detroit was 2,307.2 and the state’s was 1,629.0.


According to the FBI, motor vehicle theft is defined as “the theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle.”

From 1985 through 2011, the reported rate of motor vehicle theft in Michigan showed a gradual decreasing trend over time. Detroit’s rate had many peaks and valleys. There was a large, continuous decrease in Detroit’s rate from 2006 to 2009; it decreased from 2,593.8 per 100,000 people to 1,432.2. After rising and falling over the last few years, it was at 1,593.9 in 2011. Both the Michigan and the Detroit long term declines are partly due to substantial improvements in the security systems built into cars, which are making it far more difficult to steal cars built in recent years.


The above chart shows the rate (per 100,000 people) of criminal offenses reported in 2011 for the seven crimes addressed in this post for the City of Detroit and the next four largest cities that are part of the Metropolitan Statistical Area that includes Detroit. Detroit had the highest rate of offenses reported of the five communities for all of the crimes, with the exception of larceny. Dearborn has the highest larceny rate.

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