Violent crimes in Oklahoma fell last year to the lowest level in a decade, according to statistics released Friday by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
The 17,630 reports of violent crime in the state in 2011 were the lowest since 17,587 were reported in 2002. Violent crime reports over the past decade peaked at 19,128 in 2008.
The statistics are kept by the FBI, which compiles what it calls uniform crime reports from law enforcement agencies throughout the country. The OSBI keeps track of the statistics as a resource for local police and sheriff's offices, spokeswoman Jessica Brown said.
The numbers can be useful, but it's hard to pinpoint a reason for the decline in violent crime or any other movement in the statistics, Brown added.
“We don't interpret the numbers,” she said. “We just report them.”
More than 145,000 crimes in categories tracked by the FBI were reported in Oklahoma during 2011. That's consistent with crime reports over the past six years, when reported crimes suddenly dropped to that range from more than 161,000 per year from 2002-05.
Murders in Oklahoma were up to 219 last year from 191 in 2010, but down from 229 in 2009. The bulk of the state's murders happen in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. This year, Oklahoma City police have investigated more than 70 homicides; Tulsa police have investigated nearly 40.
The total value of property stolen in Oklahoma last year was estimated at about $213 million. Only about a fifth of it was recovered.
Larceny reports have consistently been near or below 80,000 per year in Oklahoma since 2005, when the category showed a sudden drop as gas stations stopped allowing drivers to pump gasoline before they paid for it.
Oklahoma County had the highest crime rate in the state, with about 58 crimes reported per 100,000 residents. Cimarron County in the Panhandle had the lowest rate with about seven crimes reported per 100,000 residents.
What is tracked?
The FBI's uniform crime reports track several violent and property crime categories.
Violent crimes tracked include murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault and arson. Property crimes tracked include larceny, burglary and auto theft.