BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
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ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 4:30 P.M. EDT Bureau of Justice Statistics
SUNDAY, September 12, 2004 Contact: Stu Smith 202/307-0784
  After hours: 301-983-9354


WASHINGTON, D.C.—Last year's violent and property crime rates stabilized at their lowest levels since the U.S. Government began surveying criminal victimization in 1973, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported today. There were no statistically significant changes in the per capita rates of violent or property crime between 2002 and 2003.

The average annual violence rate for the most recent two-year period-2002-2003-was significantly lower than the annual average for 2000-2001, declining by 14 percent. During the same period, the per capita rate of property crime dropped almost 7 percent. BJS utilizes a rolling two-year average rate to track short-term victimization trends.

During the last decade violent victimizations fell by 55 percent, from 50 per 1,000 persons aged 12 or older in 1993 to 23 per 1,000 persons of that age in 2003. In 1993, there was about 1 violent victimization for every 20 U.S. residents aged 12 or older. In 2003, there was about 1 victimization for every 44 residents aged 12 or older. For the period 2001-2002, there was 1 violent victimization for every 38 people. In 2002-2003, there was about 1 violent victimization for every 44 people.

The rate of property crime victimization has followed a decline similar to that for violent crimes. Since 1993, the property crime rate has declined by 49 percent-from about 319 per 1,000 U.S. households to about 163 per 1,000 households. In 1993, there was about 1 burglary for every 17 households. In 2003, there was about 1 burglary for every 34 households.

During 2003, 48 percent of all violent crimes were reported to police, as were 38 percent of all property crimes. The willingness of victims and witnesses to report both violent and property crimes to the police has significantly increased over the last decade.

Last year 24 percent of all violent crimes were committed by an offender with some type of weapon-7 percent with a firearm, down from 1993's 11 percent. The per capita rate of non-lethal firearm violence was 1.9 per 1,000 persons aged 12 or older, a two-thirds reduction from the rate of 5.9 in 1993.

According to Federal Bureau of Investigation data, during 2002, the most recent year with final counts available, there were 16,200 murders and non-negligent manslaughters, this equates to the same per capita homicide rate as in 2001. Preliminary 2003 data indicate the homicide rate will be unchanged. This rate is about the same as the homicide rates during the late 1960s.

Last year, as in previous years, males were more often violently victimized by strangers (54 percent of the incidents) than by nonstrangers (42 percent), whereas females were most often victimized by nonstrangers (67 percent).

From 1993 through 2003 the violent crime rate for persons 12 years old and older fell 56.0 percent for males, from 59.8 to 26.3 per 1,000 male U.S residents. Female violent crime rates fell 53.3 percent-from 40.7 per 1,000 to 19.0. Similar declines in violent victimization were recorded by race and ethnicity. Since 1993, the rate has dropped 55 percent for whites, 57 percent for blacks and 56 percent for Hispanics. Declines in violent victimization rates have been similar among households regardless of income level.

People who have historically been the most vulnerable to violent crime-males, blacks and youths-continued to be victimized at higher rates during 2003 than other groups, although all groups have experienced lower violence rates than in prior years.

The data on criminal victimization are obtained from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which conducts interviews annually in about 84,000 U.S. households with nearly 150,000 persons aged 12 or older. The NCVS has been conducted continuously since 1973 and is designed to measure the public's exposure to crime as reported by victims, even if the incident was never brought to the attention of a law enforcement agency. Data collection is carried out for BJS by the Bureau of the Census.

The survey report, "Criminal Victimization, 2003" (NCJ-205455), was written by BJS statistician Shannan M. Catalano. Following publication this document can be accessed at:

The Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs (OJP) provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist crime victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises five component bureaus and two offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education, and the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed program and OJP's American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk. More information can be found at

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