All law enforcement agencies have to report certain crime statistics to the FBI which publishes them through the Bureau of Justice Statistics. These Uniform Crime Reports, or UCRs, include the following crimes:
- murder and nonnegligent manslaughter,
- forcible rape,
- aggravated assault,
- motor vehicle theft.
The data go back to 1958, so you can make comparisons over time, or you can compare one crime, per capita, from your city/area to another area. So, if the public information officer tells you the murder rate in your city is much lower than another city, you can pull the numbers and check it out.
Because it takes awhile to compile the figures, the data is generally a year old, so you may want to check with your police agency for the most recent year. And remember that this is reported crime, which is not actual crime, but this is the best crime statistics available.