BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2002 202/307-0703


50 Percent Drop Since Survey Began in 1973

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The nation's violent crime rate fell 10 percent last year, continuing a trend observed since 1994, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. During the last 7 years the annual violent crime rate decreased about 50 percent—from 52 violent victimizations per 1,000 U.S. residents age 12 or older in 1994 to 25 per thousand in 2001.

Violent victimization and property crime rates in 2001 are the lowest recorded since the National Crime Victimization Survey's inception in 1973. The number of criminal victimizations in 2001 was almost half that measured when the BJS survey commenced in 1973. There were an estimated 44 million personal and household crimes that year, compared to 24.2 million during 2001.

In 2001 there were approximately 18.3 million property crimes (burglary, motor vehicle theft and household theft) and 5.7 million violent personal crimes (rape, sexual assault, robbery and simple and aggravated assault). Last year's decline in violent crimes was primarily attributable to a drop in simple assaults.

According to victim self-reports, most male victims of violence were victimized by strangers, whereas the majority of females were victimized by someone they knew:

Relationship With the Offender Male Victims Female Victims
Intimates 3 % 20 %
Other relatives 4   9  
Friend or acquaintance 37   37  
Stranger 55   32  

About 1 in 3 victims of violence faced an offender armed with a weapon; 1 in 11 victims of violence said the offender had a firearm. Firearm use in crime has significantly declined - it accounted for 12 percent of all violent crime in 1994 and 9 percent in 2001.

In 2001, victims reported that about 49 percent of violent crimes and 37 percent of property crimes they experienced were reported to police, a reporting rate similar to that in 2000 for both categories of crime. Violent victimizations against women were more likely to be brought to the attention of police than those against males.

The data, from BJS' National Criminal Victimization Survey, a continuing survey of the U.S. public on their exposure to crime, also showed that between 1993 and 2001, a period in which the per capita rate of violence declined 50 percent and property crime fell 47 percent, specific crime categories showed the following declines:

Rape/sexual assault - 56%
Robbery - 53
Aggravated assault - 56
Simple assault - 46
Household burglary - 51
Motor vehicle theft - 52
Household theft - 47

Between 1993 and 2000, FBI murder data show a decrease of 42 percent in the per capita rate of murder - a drop from 9.5 murders per 100,000 U.S. residents to 5.5 per 100,000 residents.

The report, "Criminal Victimization 2001, Changes 2000-2001 with Trends 1993-2001" (NCJ-194610), was written by BJS statistician Callie Rennison. Single copies may be obtained by calling the BJS Clearinghouse at 1-800-851-3420. In addition, this document can be accessed at:

For further information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics and other OJP programs, please see the OJP website at:

Media calls should be directed to David Hess in OJP's Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at or 202-307-0703. After hours: 877-859-8704.

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BJS02159 (I)

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