THE amount of serious crime reported to police in the United States has risen for the fourth year in a row, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI says the number of serious crimes rose by 3 percent in 1988 according to preliminary figures; it had increased from 2 percent to 6 percent in each of the three preceding years.
It is not certain whether the increased percentages represent an actual rise in the crime rate or only in the number of crimes that are reported to police, or both. A year ago the US Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics said that only 37 percent of serious crimes were reported to police during 1987.
Criminologists say most crimes are committed by persons between ages 15 and 24. Thus it wasn't surprising when the crime rate decreased during the early 1980s, because the number of Americans that age also declined. Some criminologists also forecast at the time that serious crime would again turn upward in the late 1980s, in part because the number of Americans between the ages of 15 and 24 was also expected to rise.