Recent bombings in Austin might be rare for the area, but they are among hundreds of bombings reported nationwide each year, according to an analysis of federal data.
More than 2,500 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies report incidents to BATS, the Bomb Arson Tracking System run by a division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The tracking system shows how suspicious package investigations have spiked in recent years, but actual bombing events have general gone down.
TIMELINE: Serial bomber terrorizes Central Texas
There were 2,785 suspicious package investigations nationwide in 2012, and by 2016, that more than doubled, to 6,061.
Year Suspicious Packages
The system also tracks actual bombing events, defined as an explosion with criminal intent to cause damage or harm.
Bombings across the U.S. leveled off in the past few years, with a slight uptick from 2015 to 2016. But there were still less than half as many bombings reported in 2016, compared to 2013.
Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, like the bombs suspected in Austin’s bombings, accounted for about a quarter of bombings. The vast majority of bombs are either commercial explosive devices or chemical-reaction bombs, according to federal data.
While the ATF does not release full state-by-state data of bombings, it does report the top five states for bombing incidents. Texas wasn’t one of them in 2015 and 2016, the two most recent years for data.
In those years, California, Florida, New York, Washington state and Maryland were listed in the top five.
The last time Texas ranked in the top five was 2014. It was fifth, with 29 bombings.
But despite hundreds of bombings each year throughout the nation, the majority ended without injury. Federal bomb statistics include everything from teenagers setting off illegal fireworks in a mailbox to more serious events like the recent serial bombings in Austin.