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Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics
Criminal Victimization 2002
National Crime Victimization Survey reveals long-term declines in victimization
to the lowest per capita rates in nearly 30 years
In 2002 U.S. residents age 12 or older experienced about 23.0 million violent and property victimizations, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). These criminal victimizations included an estimated 17.5 million property crimes (burglary, motor vehicle theft, and theft), 5.3 million violent crimes (rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault), and 155,000 personal thefts (pocket picking and purse snatching).
23.0 million criminal victimizations in 2002 continued a downward trend that
began in 1994. Criminal victimization estimates are the lowest since the 1973
estimate of 44 million victimizations when the NCVS began.
1993 and 2002 the violent crime rate has decreased 54%, from 50 to 23
victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older, and the property crime rate
declined 50% (from 319 to 159 crimes per 1,000 households). In 2002 victims
reported to police 49% of the violent crime and 40% of the property crime they
experienced. The proportion of crime reported to the police has increased since
1993, when victims indicated that 43% of the violent crime and 34% of the
property crime had been reported to the police.
NCVS collects data on nonfatal crimes against persons age 12 or older, reported
and not reported to the police, from a nationally representative sample of U.S.
households in the United States. Information on homicide comes from the Uniform
Crime Reporting (UCR) Program of the FBI.
measured by the NCVS
crimes refer to rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple
assault taken as a whole. Property crimes refer to household burglary, motor
vehicle theft, and theft considered together. Though decreased crime rates and
reductions in the NCVS sample size have made it more difficult for the NCVS to
detect statistically significant year-to-year changes in crime rates, the
decline in crime rates 2001-02 were consistent with the declining trend
exhibited since 1994.
violent crime rate declined somewhat from 25 to 23 victimizations per 1,000
persons, 2001-02. Aggravated assault rates fell significantly, robbery rates
fell marginally, and rape/sexual assault and simple assault rates did not
change, 2001-02. Between 2001 and 2002 the property crime rate fell from 167 to
159 crimes per 1,000 households. While the rate of property theft fell
significantly, no statistically significant change in the rate of burglary or
motor vehicle theft was measured.
on preliminary 2002 data from the FBI, the number of persons murdered in the
United States increased 0.8% between 2001 and 2002. In 2001, 15,980 persons were
murdered; the estimate for 2002 is about 16,110 victims of murder.
data suggest that increases in the number of murders occurred in the South
(+2.1%) and the West (+5.2%). Declines in the number of murders were measured in
the Northeast (-4.8%) and the Midwest (-2.8%).
and victim characteristics, 2001
2001, the year in which the most recent comprehensive data are available, the
FBI reported a total of 15,980 murders or nonnegligent homicides. The total
represents a 1.3% increase from the 15,586 murders recorded in 2000. The FBI
defines murder in its annual Crime in the United States as the willful (nonnegligent)
killing of one human being by another. Not included are deaths caused by
negligence, suicide, or accident; justifiable homicides; and attempts to murder
or assaults to murder, which are scored as aggravated assaults. The FBI's
Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program gathers statistics on murder from over
17,000 city, county, and State law enforcement agencies.
the rate and level of homicide changes year to year, the relationship between
victim characteristics and homicide tends to remain the same.
example, as in previous years, in 2001--
victimization, 1999-2000 and 2001-02
2-year average annual rates (see box below) shows that for every category of
crime except rape/ sexual assault and motor vehicle theft the average annual
rates were significantly lower in 2001-02 than in 1999-2000. The average annual
rate of rape/sexual assault was slightly lower in 2001-02 than in 1999-2000.
average annual overall violent victimization rate declined 21% from 30 to 24
victimizations per 1,000 persons per year, 1999-2000 to 2001-02. During the same
time robbery rates fell 27%, aggravated assault rates fell 23%, and simple
assault rates fell 19%.
rates declined 13% from 188 to 163 crimes per 1,000 households per year,
comparing 1999-2000 to 2001-02. Over the same period of comparison, burglary and
property theft rates declined 14%.
change in crime victimization rates
1995, the NCVS has undergone sample reductions because of the escalating costs
of data collection. At the same time, the rate of violence has continued to
decline. The combination of the two -- fewer survey respondents and less crime
-- has resulted in a diminished ability to detect statistically significant
year-to-year changes in rates.
2-year average rates gives the reader a picture of the continuing decline in
rates seen over the last few years. For those who rely upon the annual detailed
table of victimization counts and per capita rates, those data are located on
the BJS website at <www.ojp.usdoj. gov/bjs/abstract/cv02.htm>.
of the crime victim, from 1999-2000 to 2001-02
rate of violent crime experienced by males, females, whites, blacks and
non-Hispanics fell significantly, 1999-2000 compared to 2001-02. The rate of
violence against Hispanics fell somewhat during the same period. Rates of
violent victimization remained statistically similar between 1999-2000 and
2001-02 for persons of "other races.***Footnote 2: In this
report,"Other races" are defined as Asians, Native Hawaiians, other
Pacific Islanders, Alaska Natives, and American Indians considered together.***
against never married, married, and divorced/ separated persons fell 1999-2000
compared to 2001-02. The apparent increase in the rate of violent victimization
experienced by widowed persons was not significant.
persons under age 35 and those between ages 50 and 64, violent crime fell
significantly, from 1999-2000 to 2001-02. A slight decline was measured for
persons between ages 35 and 49. No change in the rate of violent victimization
against persons age 65 or older was measured between 1999-2000 and 2001-02.
clear pattern in short-term changes for income was measured. However,
significant declines in the rate of violent victimization against persons in
households earning more than $50,000 annually were measured between 1999-2000
and 2001-02. Persons in households earning less than $7,500 and those in
households earning between $25,000 and $34,999 also experienced violence at
lower rates in 2001-02 compared to 1999-2000. A slight decline in the rate of
violence was noted for those in households earning between $7,500 and $14,999,
while no change was observed for households earning between $15,000 and $24,999.
crime decreased in every region and type of area of the Nation, from 1999-2000
for households in the category of $7,500-$14,999 annual income, all households
experienced property crime at rates lower during 2001-02 than during 1999-2000.
The apparent decline in rates for households earning $7,500-$14,999 was not
crime rates fell, from 1999-2000 to 2001-02, regardless of the region. The
largest decline occurred in the Northeast where property crime rates fell 21%
over the period.
crime for households in urban, suburban, and rural areas declined from 1999-2000
average annual property crime rates for households fell 13% from 1999-2000 to
2001-2002 for both resident owners and renters.
rate of every major violent and property crime measured in the NCVS -
rape/sexual assault, robbery aggravated assault, simple assault, burglary,
theft, and motor vehicle theft - fell significantly between 1993 and 2002.
overall violent crime rate fell 54% from 50 to 23 violent victimizations per
1,000 persons age 12 or older between 1993 and 2002. Other significant declines
were measured in rates of rape/sexual assault (down 56%), robbery (down 63%),
aggravated assault (down 64%), and simple assault (down 47%).
1993 through 2002, the rate of overall property crime declined significantly, as
did the rate for each major type of property crime considered. The household
burglary rate fell 52%; the motor vehicle theft rate fell 53%; and rate of
property theft fell 49%. Attempted motor vehicle theft was marked by one of the
largest percentage rate decreases (71%) of all categories of property crime
of victims, 1993-2002
exception declines in violent victimization were experienced by persons in all
demographic categories considered -- gender, race, Hispanic origin, and
household income, 1993-2002.
males and females both experienced drops in violence between 1993 and 2002, the
rate at which violence fell differed. The rate of violence against males fell to
a greater degree than did the rate of violence against women, 1993-2002.
decline in violent crime rates for whites, blacks and persons of other races
were statistically equal, 1993-2002.
three exceptions, persons across all income categories examined experienced
similar declines in violent crime, 1993-2002. The exceptions are that persons
living in households earning between $50,000 and $74,999 annually experienced a
drop in violent crime that was significantly larger than those in households
with annual incomes between $15,000 to $24,999, and somewhat larger than those
in households with incomes between $7,500 and $14,999, and between $25,000 and
crime rates fell for every demographic group considered, 1993-2002.
all groups experienced significant decreases in property crime over time, some
experienced greater declines in rates than others. For example, property crime
rates for households that rent showed a smaller decline than rates for
households that own a home.
having an annual income greater than $50,000 experienced larger drops in
property crime rates than did households with lower incomes. And households with
annual incomes of between $25,000 and $34,999 experienced a steeper drop in
rates than the households with incomes of less than $25,000 annually.
rate of property crime for households in urban areas decreased less than did the
rate for households in suburban areas, and somewhat less than the rate for
households in rural areas, 1993-2002. Property crime rates in suburban and rural
areas each dropped by half.
in all regions experienced similar decreases in property crime rates, 1993-2002.
of violent crime victims, 2002
who have been historically the most vulnerable to violent victimization in the
past -- males, blacks, and youths -- continued to be victimized at rates higher
than others in 2002.
were victims of overall violent crime, robbery, total assault, simple assault,
and aggravated assault at rates higher than those of females. Females were more
likely than males to be victims of rape/sexual assault. While males and females
were victims of simple assault at similar rates during 2001, males were
victimized at a higher rate than females during 2002.
were victims of overall violence, rape/sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated
assault at rates higher than those for whites in 2002. Blacks were also victims
of overall violence, total assault, and aggravated assault at rates
significantly higher than those for persons of "other races." Blacks
were victims of simple assault at a rate somewhat higher than the rate for
were victims of overall violence, total assault, aggravated and simple assault
at rates higher than "others."
origin of victim
and non-Hispanics were victims of violence at similar rates during 2002, with
one exception: Hispanics were more likely than non-Hispanics to be victims of
2002 rates of overall violence differed between all adjacent age categories.
Persons age 16 to 19 experienced overall violence, rape/ sexual assault, and
assault overall at rates at least slightly higher than rates for persons in
other age categories. Persons age 16 to 19 and age 20 to 24 were victims of
aggravated assault at similar rates, and at rates higher than those for persons
in other age categories. Persons age 12 to 15 and age 16 to 19 experienced
simple assault at similar rates, and their rates of simple assault were at least
slightly higher than rates for all other age categories. Persons age 12 to 15,
16 to 19 and 20 to 24 were more likely than persons in other age categories to
2002 persons in households with an annual income under $7,500 were more likely
to be victims of overall violence and of aggravated assault than members of
households with higher incomes.
of households that earned below $7,500 a year, experienced simple assault at a
rate somewhat higher than the rates for persons in households at all other
in households earning between $7,500 and $49,999 annually were victims of
violence and aggravated assault at similar rates. Those rates were higher than
the rates for persons in households earning above $49,999 in the year.
in households earning below $50,000 in the year were victims of rape/sexual
assault at rates higher than rates for persons in households earning $50,000 or
with household incomes below $75,000 annually were more likely to be robbed than
were persons with higher annual household incomes. Apparent differences in the
rate of robbery across income categories less than $75,000 were not
2002 persons who had never married were victims of violent crime overall,
rape/sexual assault, total assault, and simple assault at rates higher than
those for married, widowed, or divorced/separated persons. Persons who had never
married and those who were divorced/separated were victims of robbery and of
aggravated assault at similar rates.
and Midwestern residents were victimized by violent crime overall and total
assault at similar rates and at rates higher than residents in the South and
Northeast, 2002. Northeastern and Southern residents were victims of violent
crime overall, rape/sexual assault, total assault, and simple assault at similar
one exception, no regional differences between the rates of rape/sexual assault
emerged. Western residents were victims of rape/sexual assault at a higher rate
than that for residents of the Northeast during 2002.
regional differences between robbery rates were observed with the exception that
Southerners were more likely than Northeasterners to be robbed.
a single exception, no differences between the regional rates of aggravated
assault were measured:
in the Northeast had a rate lower than those for all other regions.
all types of violent crime considered, urban residents were victimized at rates
higher than rates for suburban and rural residents during 2002.
the sole exception of robbery, suburban and rural residents were victims of
violence at statistically similar rates during 2002. Suburban residents were
robbed at a higher rate than rural residents.
of victims of property crime, 2002
property crime rates did not differ by annual household income. However, the
relationship between annual household income and property crime rates did vary
by specific types of property crime.
with an annual income below $7,500 were burglarized at a rate higher than the
rate for households with higher incomes. Households with incomes greater than
$7,500 annually were burglarized at statistically similar rates, 2002.
with an income under $7,500 were less likely than other households to experience
motor vehicle theft. Those having an income of $75,000 or above were slightly
less likely to be victimized by such theft.
locality, and home ownership
households were victims of overall property crime at the highest rate while
households in the Northeast sustained property crime at the lowest rate of all
regions, 2002. Southern and Midwestern households were victims of property crime
at similar rates.
households were less likely to be burglarized than households in other regions.
The Midwest, South, and West had similar 2002 rates of burglary.
households were victims of motor vehicle theft at rates higher than those for
households experienced theft at the highest regional rate; Northeastern
households, at the lowest. Theft rates for Southern and Midwestern households
were similar during 2002.
households were victims of each type of property crime at rates higher than
those for suburban and rural households, 2002. Except for burglary, suburban
households were victims of each type of property crime at rates higher than
rural household rates. Rural and suburban households were burglarized at
statistically similar rates, 2002.
of the crime event
were most often victimized by someone they knew while males were more likely to
be victimized by a stranger during 2002.
those offenders victimizing females, 40% were described as friends/
acquaintances, 20% as intimates, and 7% as some other relative. Strangers to the
victim committed 31% of the violence against females. In contrast, of those
offenders victimizing males, 37% were described as friends/acquaintances, 3% as
intimates, and 4% as some other relative. Strangers committed 56% of the
violence against males.
was the crime most likely to be committed by a stranger for both male and female
2002, 71% of all violent crime victims did not face an armed offender. However,
the presence of a weapon during a violent crime was related to the type of
crime. For example, rape and sexual assault victims were the least likely (7%)
and robbery victims the most likely (46%), to face an armed offender. The type
of weapon also varied by the type of violence. Four percent of victims of
rape/sexual assault faced an offender armed with a firearm, compared to 25% of
robbery victims. An offender brandishing a knife confronted 2% of rape/sexual
assault victims and 12% of robbery victims.
to the police
2002, 49% of all violent victimizations and 40% of all property crimes were
reported to the police. The percentage of crime reported differed based on the
specific type of crime considered. For example, 71% of robberies were brought to
the attention of police, while 43% of simple assaults were reported to the
police in 2002.
vehicle theft continued to be the property crime most often reported to the
police (86%). Fifty-eight percent of burglaries and 33% of thefts were reported
to the police, 2002.
and victim characteristics
violent victimization of a female was more likely to be reported to the police
than was the victimization of a male during 2002. This difference in reporting
for males and females existed for violence against white, black, and
non-Hispanic victims. Violence against females of "other races" was
reported to police in slightly higher percentages than was violence against
males of "other races." The apparent difference in reporting of
violence against Hispanic males and females was not significant, 2002.
male victims the percentage of violence reported to the police did not differ
across racial categories or by Hispanic origin.
one exception among female victims there were no differences between the
percentages across racial categories or by Hispanic origin of crimes reported to
the police. Violent crimes against black females were more likely to be reported
to the police than those against white females.
crime to the police, 1993-2002
for aggravated assault, the percentages of all types of property and violent
crimes reported to the police increased significantly, 1993-2002. No
statistically significant change in reporting was measured for aggravated
increases in reporting varied by type of crime. The relative increase in
reporting crime to the police was greater for rape/sexual assault than it was
for robbery or simple assault, 1993-2002. The relative increases of reporting to
police of burglary (from 50% in 1993 to 58% in 2002), motor vehicle theft (from
75% to 86%), and theft (from 26% to 33%) were statistically similar. (For
further discussion see Reporting Crime to the Police, 1992-2000, <www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/rcp00htm>.)
This Bulletin presents data on non-lethal violence and property crimes from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), and data on homicide from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting program. In 2002, 42,340 households and 76,050 people age 12 or older were interviewed. For the 2002 NCVS data presented here, the response rate was 92.4% of eligible households and 87.3% of eligible individuals. See <www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ bjs/abstracts/cv02.htm> for additional information on methodology, standard error calculations, and definitions.
This document is not necessarily endorsed by the Almanac of Policy Issues. It is being preserved in the Policy Archive for historic reasons.