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Blogger Says Crime Data Is Distorted

Posted Aug 15, 2007 7:44 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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An economics professor contends the media is distorting statistics to create the impression that crime is out of control.

Steven D. Levitt of the University of Chicago writes on his Freakonomics blog that out of five big cities he studied, crime is down in most of them.

In 2007 New York City saw a 13 percent decline in homicide, Los Angeles a 20 percent decline, and Chicago a flat murder rate. Robberies and burglaries were lower in all three cities. Crime was also down across the board in San Diego, but Levitt did not have exact percentages.

Only Phoenix bucked the trend, which had a decline in homicides but increases in robberies and burglaries.

Levitt says the media jumped on the Phoenix figures, with the Economist describing the city as a “crime-ridden mess.” The article says burglary, theft and auto crime there are among the highest in the country.

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