Larceny-theft and burglary have become less widespread in the U.S. since 2012. In the pandemic, this decrease sped up - before a resurgence in the theft category happened in 2022. Despite property crime levels remaining below those of 2019, the yearlong downward trend in the category nevertheless seems broken.
Motor vehicle theft, meanwhile, decoupled from the greater larceny-theft trend and has skyrocketed throughout the pandemic. It is, however, a less common type of crime in the country. Violent crime, including homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, remained mostly stable since 2012. A large spike in murders did happen in the pandemic, but since the crime makes up just a small part of the violent crime category, these changes are not visible in overall numbers.
News of organized retail theft, sometimes called smash and grab incidents, have continued to be reported from different parts of the country, receiving much attention from the public as well as from policymakers. At least until 2021, the share of shoplifting incidents involving more than two people remained at less than 5 percent, while crimes with more than six participants made up just 0.1 percent of the total, according to data analyzed by the Council on Criminal Justice.
The same organization found a mixed picture when looking at retail theft in a sample of 24 U.S. cities, concluding that shoplifting in particular saw a major dip in the pandemic and a resurgence after. Most cities, however, also remain below pre-pandemic levels, with some notable exceptions. New York City saw a large increase in retail theft in 2023, while 2019 and 2018 rates were also surpassed in Boston and Los Angeles.