The Associated Press reported, yesterday, that Rhode Island became the New England leader in murders per 100,000 residents in 2016, largely because Connecticut (the prior leader) dropped so much.
Looking at the FBI data from which the report derived, however, puts that change of rank in a more disturbing context. Rhode Island was already — and remains — number 1 in New England for every form of property crime listed in the table except motor vehicle theft, making the Ocean State the worst for property crime in the region. Here are the rates per 100,000 residents:
- 359 burglaries
- 1,389 larcenies-thefts
- 151 motor vehicle thefts
- 1,899 property crimes total
That makes our number 2 rank for violent crimes all the more worrisome, with the following rates per 100,000:
- 3 murders
- 42 rapes (under a revised definition)
- 51 robberies
- 143 aggravated assaults
- 239 violent crimes total
Only when it comes to robbery is Rhode Island not either first or second.
Any analysis of these numbers would require broader contexts related to demographics and geography. Population density surely plays a role, for example, particularly when it comes to property crime (although that doesn’t explain why Rhode Island’s property crime rate would be higher than New Jersey’s).
Nonetheless, the Ocean State appears to be losing ground in these rankings and must turn that around. As with everything, one can’t help but suspect that policies that seek to attract and generate government dependents don’t help, whereas policies bringing about broad private-sector opportunity would improve things across the board. Perhaps, that is, Rhode Islanders steal because they can’t earn and aren’t satisfied with what they’re given.