Crime in New Jersey dropped by approximately 5 percent last year, according to preliminary data compiled by the State Police.

Violent crime was down around 4 percent, with nonviolent offenses down around 5 percent. The count of recorded offenses that are included in what’s called the “crime index” declined by 5 percent to about 160,000 – and will have plunged by more than one-fourth since 2011, if the early data holds up.

“In most major categories, we will see continuing decreases we saw from 2010 through 2015,” said Attorney General Christopher Porrino.

“It’s not an exact science, and there’s certainly more to be done,” Porrino said, when asked why crime declined. “But we’re doing everything we can to keep particularly the violent crime numbers on the downward trend.”

The data is preliminary and may be subject to review and verification before final publication, which won’t come for months. But the updates to the statistics’ online publication have slowed to a trickle in recent weeks.

Around 22,000 violent crimes were recorded. The number of homicides rose 1 percent to 373. The number of reported rapes increased 7 percent. But other, more prevalent categories of violent crime showed declines – 8 percent for robbery and 2 percent for assault.

“The challenge continues to be, and this challenge is not going away immediately, where the drug trade is active, violent crime follows. So that’s a place that as I think you know we’re placing a lot of focus,” said Porrino.

Testifying last week before the Assembly Budget Committee, Porrino highlighted one violent-crime reduction initiative – a fugitive roundup that began last fall and continues. In late January, he announced that more than 150 fugitives were arrested in a three-month sweep. That’s now up to 229, he said.

“That sounds pretty good,” Porrino said. “But think about it: That’s 229 separate investigations to find the fugitive. Then it’s 229 separate knocks on a door, or knocking down a door as the case may be. Each time, State Police and whoever’s accompanying us putting their lives in danger in order to help keep us safe.”

Around 138,000 nonviolent crimes are counted in the preliminary crime report. All the categories of nonviolent crime included in the crime index dropped – 10 percent for burglary, 4 percent for theft and 4 percent for motor vehicle theft, including a 6 percent drop in stolen cars.

The State Police report also includes data about simple assault, which isn’t part of the crime index. Simple assault increased by 0.5 percent, to almost 55,500, according to the preliminary numbers.

New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at

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