The western United States has the second highest rating, at 23 percent of total offenses.
Many Southern cities also topped lists for numbers of reported crime in all categories.
The highest ranked city in terms of property crimes in metropolitan areas was Tuscaloosa, Ala. Greenville was the fourth-highest ranked city in terms of per capita property crime rates.
Rodney Engen, professor of criminology at N.C. State University, said he thinks there is no definite cause of the South's high crime rate. He said there are many different opinions as to why the percentage is so high.
Popular explanations include the presence of a subculture of violence in the South, as well as economic factors like the strong correlation between poverty and economic inequality in crime rates.
Maj. Kevin Smeltzer of the Greenville Police Department said it is important to note the crime index depends on the amount of crimes actually reported. He said his department actively encourages victims to report crimes.
"I have trouble with comparing crime statistics from jurisdiction to jurisdiction," he said. "Things vary from area to area."
He also pointed to the difference in size among metropolitan areas as a reason for Greenville's high ranking. The city has 60,000 residents within city limits. He said there are 120,000 residents in the Pitt County metropolitan area.
Smeltzer said Greenville had eight murders last year and only one murder so far in 2001. If the current rate holds, it would mean a 700 percent decrease.