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Crime: Summary & Data Highlights

From 2007 to 2011, crime rates declined in all but unincorporated areas and North Region cities, which had relatively low rates in 2007.

Crime diminishes the health of our communities through fear, erosion of community cohesion, diversion of public resources, property damage, injury, incarceration, and death. 

The FBI Index Crime Rate, expressed as number of crimes per 100,000 persons, tracks serious crime in the U.S.  The Index includes four major violent crimes (homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) and four major property crimes (burglary, larceny/theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson).

King County’s Index Crime Rate in 2011 was 4,419 per 100,000 population.  The index crime rate …

  • declined from a high of 9,270 per 100,000 in 1987. 
  • … declined between 2007 and 2011 in all but unincorporated areas and North cities, which had relatively low rates in 2007.
  • … varied considerably among King County cities.

The 2011 rate of major violent crime in King County was 354 per 100,000 persons. 

  • Since 1997, major violent crime has declined in King County, East and North Region cities, Seattle, and unincorporated areas.  
  • The violent crime rate in South Region cities fluctuated over the 1997-2011 period, but has declined significantly since 2007. The other city-defined regions, unincorporated areas, and King County continued their longer-term downward trend through the 2007-2011 period.
  • Between 1997 and 2011, the rate of aggravated assault – the most common major violent crime – declined by an average 3.7% per year; since 2007, however, the rate has plateaued.  
  • The homicide rate in King County has declined since 1994, with a steep drop in 2009.  
    • In 2011, 40 King County residents died as a result of homicide. 
    • Averaging data from 2002 through 2011, the overall homicide rate for King County was 3.3 per 100,000 population. Rates in South Region and Seattle were significantly higher than those in East and North Regions. 
      • South Region:  4.4 per 100,000
      • Seattle:  3.8 per 100,000
      • East Region: 2.0 per 100,000
      • North Region: 1.0 per 100,000
    • The highest homicide rates in King County were among residents between the ages of 15 and 34.
    • Males were almost 3 times as likely as females to be victims of homicide. For adults age 20-24, males were 6.4 times more likely than females to be homicide victims.
    • Non-Hispanic Blacks and American Indians/Alaska Natives were more likely than Hispanics, and non-Hispanic Asians/Pacific Islanders and whites to be victims of homicide.  
    • Although disparities in homicide by race/ethnicity have decreased since 2000, the 2009-2011 rate for non-Hispanic Blacks was 5.5 times the rate for non-Hispanic whites.
    • Homicide rates were highest in high-poverty neighborhoods.
    • From 1994 to 2011, homicide rates declined in Seattle, South Region, and King County overall.  North Region has so few homicides that stable rates cannot be calculated.

King County’s property crime rate (burglary, larceny/theft, car theft and arson) in 2011 was 4,065 per 100,000 population.

  • From 1997 to 2011, King County’s rate of property crime declined significantly.
  • This long-term decline also occurred in the county’s city-defined regions and unincorporated areas, and has continued through the most recent 5-year period except in North Region cities and unincorporated area, where rates were already relatively low.
  • Motor vehicle theft increased in all 4 regions until 2005, when King County launched its Car Theft Initiative; since then, rates in all regions have dropped, some by more than half, although rates appear to be rebounding in South Region cities.    

The rate of complaints filed for identity theft in the Seattle-Bellevue-Tacoma area fell from 2008 to 2010, but may be moving up again.

The rate of hate crimes in King County has decreased significantly since data were first collected in 1995.

  • Until recently, more than half of all hate crimes in King County were racially motivated.  The motivations for hate crime offenses in the 2007-2011 period were:
    • Race (45%)
    • Religion (21%)
    • Ethnicity/national origin (17%)
    • Sexual orientation (16%)
    • Disability (1%)
  • From 2000 through 2010, most hate crimes in King County involved intimidation or vandalism.

"I’ve heard many people tell me that people get their purses taken at the bus stop and some people get mugged at the bus stop."
Mother of 2 in 2-parent Chinese-immigrant family living in a single bedroom in a house they rent with extended family in Beacon Hill.