New York City

Is Crime in NYC Actually Soaring? 2022 Crime Rates in Perspective

The Brooklyn subway shooting put the city on-edge, but some stats suggest fears are overstated.

NEW YORK - Statistics suggest The Big Apple remains one of the safest big cities in America, and despite a recent surge in crime, the odds of getting victimized remain very low.

And while major crimes – especially property crimes – have seen a large uptick in New York City since the start of the pandemic, NYPD reports fewer than 30% of the crimes it used to report annually in the 1990s.

How much has crime risen in New York City?

According to the New York City Police Department (NYPD), major crimes have surged 27% in New York over the last two years.  When the first quarter of 2022 is compared to Q1 of 2021, when much of the city was still facing major COVID-19 restrictions, those increases look even larger.

NYPD has recorded approximately 32,000 major criminal complaints so far in 2022, compared to approximately 22,000 through the same period of 2021.

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More than 80% of the major crimes reported in 2022 have been robberies, burglaries and larcenies.  

How dangerous is New York City?

New York City's crime rate is currently about 13.3 major crimes per 1,000 residents per year.

The combined rate of violent crimes – murders, rapes, and felony assaults – projects out to 2.8 per 1,000 residents per year.

Those figures are lower than most other major U.S. cities, according to the nonpartisan Council on Criminal Justice.

How many murders occur in New York City?

NYPD reported 488 murders in 2021 – approximately 5.5 per 100,000 residents. The city is on pace for about 11% fewer in 2022.

The Council on Criminal Justice found major cities averaged about 15 murders per 100,000 residents in 2021.  

New York City murder rates reached historic lows in 2017, with just 3.4 murders per 100,000 residents.  However:

  • In 2002, that figure stood at 7.3 murders per 100,000 residents
  • In 1997, NYC had 9.9 murders per 100,000 residents
  • In 1992, NYC had 26.9 murders per 100,000 residents

NYC is on-pace for about 81% fewer murders in 2022, compared to 1990.

How common are mass shootings in New York City?

While the definition of “mass shooting” varies, the Gun Violence Archive reports the Brooklyn subway shooting was just the second mass shooting in New York City in 2022.

Meanwhile, a handful of states – with smaller populations than NYC’s 8.8 million – had already recorded at least five.

That includes five in Colorado (pop. 6.0M), six in Wisconsin (pop. 5.9M), and nine in Louisiana (pop. 4.6M).

Unfortunately, mass shootings have become so commonplace in America, most no longer command national headlines.

Why is crime rising in New York City?

Different observers have offered different theories, including new mayor – and former NYPD cop – Eric Adams, who has launched several new police initiatives since taking office in January.

But criminologist Richard Rosenfeld says one, in particular, deserves more attention.

“The missing perspective in the current debate over crime is the precipitous rise in inflation during the past year,” said Rosenfeld, who also authors crime trend reports for Council on Criminal Justice.  “Rising inflation is likely the chief reason for the increases in robberies and property crimes in New York.”

Through April 10, 2022, larcenies are up 57% from one year ago, with grand larceny of automobiles up 77% from one year earlier.

Another area of exceptional growth has been the reporting of hate crimes, which were not tallied by NYPD until several years ago. The agency recorded 144 hate crimes across the city so far in 2022, compared to 102 during the same period of 2021.

How dangerous are New York City subways?

According to the MTA, New York City’s transit system (bus and subway) is completing approximately 4.5 million trips each weekday.  While that number is still far below pre-pandemic levels, the subway remains a safer option for most New Yorkers than traveling by car.

NYPD has reported 617 transit crimes so far this year – less than 1 for every 100,000 rides.

Will the Supreme Court strike down New York's strict gun laws?

This summer, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on a controversial New York state law that restricts concealed handgun permits only to those New Yorkers who show “proper cause” for the license.

According to the SCOTUS blog, “courts in New York have defined ‘proper cause’ to require applicants to show a special need to defend themselves, rather than simply wanting to protect themselves or their property.”

Observers have noted the conservative court appears poised to either strike down or weaken New York’s law, which could have wide-ranging impacts on local gun laws across the country.

New York, according to the CDC, has one of the very lowest firearm death rates in the United States – about 80% lower than that of Wyoming, Louisiana, or Mississippi.

Noah Pransky is NBCLX’s National Political Editor. He covers Washington and state politics for NBCLX, and his investigative work has been honored with national Murrow, Polk, duPont, and Cronkite awards. You can contact him confidentially at noah.pransky@nbcuni.com or on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter.