Fact Check: Has Oklahoma’s larceny rate skyrocketed since SQ 780 was passed in 2016? No. 

  • The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) data shows all forms of property crimes in Oklahoma have steadily decreased for decades—including larceny-theft and shoplifting.
  • This decrease in property crimes in the state continued during the time period after voters in 2016 approved State Question 780 that increased the larceny threshold to $1,000.


The data shared during recent legislative debates was wrong; OSBI data can’t be used for year-to-year comparisons prior to 2021

  • Some lawmakers and others have shared OSBI data purporting to show a dramatic increase in larceny, shoplifting, or other property crimes. OSBI has said those spikes were created by changes in data reporting, not increases in crime. 
    • OSBI recommends against comparing statewide crime data prior to 2021 with data after it.
    • OSBI says the large increase in the “Crimes Against Property” category in data from before 2021 is due to more agencies transitioning from the previous reporting system (UCR, also known as SRS) to the newer reporting system (SIBRS).
    • In the last few years, OSBI has changed how local law enforcement agencies report their crime data due to changing national requirements. 
    • Not all law enforcement agencies made the switch to OSBI’s new data reporting system at the same time. 
    • This meant the OSBI Crime Stats website did not include data from many large agencies, including in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, for a significant period of time. 
    • Before 2020, OSBI’s annual reports included year-over-year comparisons. In the most recent annual report for 2021, OSBI stopped including year-over-year because the changing reporting process makes year-to-year comparisons inaccurate.
    • OSBI says their data can’t currently be used for year-over-year comparisons outside of limited conditions because of this data issue. [Screen capture below] | [See OSBI’s methodology for its Crime Stats website]

Large gaps of crime data are missing from recent OSBI publications due to reporting issues

  • In 2020, about 3 in 10 Oklahomans lived in communities where law enforcement agencies did not report crime data consistent with the state’s national reporting standard, according to a 2021 bulletin updating the public on its changing data reporting. OSBI noted: 
    • At the end of 2020, only 69.7 percent of Oklahoma’s population was represented on the OSBI Crime Stats website. 
    • That means more than 1.2 million Oklahomans lived in communities where crime data was reported with the previous data system in 2020. Incidents from these communities aren’t included in the OSBI Crime Stats website. 
    • Six of the law enforcement agencies that were still using the older data reporting system in December 2020 served populations of 55,000 or more.

Data reporting changes falsely suggest property crimes are increasing 

  • As more law enforcement agencies file their crime data using the new system, the crime rate reported by OSBI will increase at a faster rate because more agencies are inputting their data. 
  • However, as the graph below shows, the sharp larceny increases in OSBI data just indicate the speed with which it is catching up with the FBI’s data. Those rates converged in 2021 and should be consistent moving forward. 

The FBI’s crime data is most consistent indicator  

  • The FBI data reflect a more comprehensive view of crime during the past few decades, including the period before and after voters approved SQ 780 in 2016 through 2022. 
  • Data reported by the FBI is drawn from OSBI’s data from the new and old reporting system.
  • Because the FBI’s data set has been more consistent over time, its data would give a better indicator of crime trends. 
  • In FBI data, we can see that larcenies (shoplifting and similar offenses) are trending consistently downward, including after Oklahoma passed SQ 780 in 2016.


Cole Allen joined OK Policy as a Policy Fellow in August 2022. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a master’s degree in International Studies as well as a bachelor’s degree in International Studies with minors in Religious Studies and Middle Eastern Studies. During college, Cole was a research assistant at the Center for U.S.-China Issues and the Center for Cyber Governance and Policy. He also interned for the U.S. Department of State Diplomat in Residence for the Central United States. Cole hopes that his work at OK Policy will help make Oklahoma a more just and equitable state for all its residents. When he is not working, Cole enjoys cooking Italian food, playing Dungeons and Dragons, and following OU athletics.