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Crime characteristics and trends
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The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) asks a series of screening questions of all household members to determine if they had any crime incidents. The household respondent, an adult household member with knowledge about the household, is asked about both personal and property crimes. Other household members are asked about personal crimes. If a respondent indicates that an incident(s) occurred, an incident form(s) is administered to obtain detailed information about the characteristics of each incident. Neither victims nor interviewers classify crimes. Classification is based on the information provided on the incident form. If an event can be classified as more than one type of crime, a hierarchy is used that classifies the crime according to the most serious event that occurred. The hierarchy from highest to lowest is rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, burglary/trespassing, motor-vehicle theft, and theft. All data from the incident form is retained on public use data tapes. It is possible to analyze incidents that include more than one crime, such as a violent crime that included a burglary.
 

The two measures of crime

The U.S. Department of Justice administers two statistical programs to measure the magnitude, nature, and impact of crime in the nation: the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program and the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). Each of these programs produces valuable information about aspects of the nation's crime problem. Because the UCR and NCVS programs are conducted for different purposes, use different methods, and focus on somewhat different aspects of crime, the information they produce together provides a more comprehensive panorama of the nation's crime problem than either could produce alone. See The Nation's Two Crime Measures.

Violent crime

  • Homicide
  • Rape - Forced sexual intercourse, including both psychological coercion as well as physical force. Forced sexual intercourse means vaginal, anal, or oral penetration by the offender(s). This category also includes incidents where the penetration is from a foreign object, such as a bottle. Includes attempted rapes, male and female victims, and both heterosexual and same sex rape. Attempted rape includes verbal threats of rape.
  • Robbery - Completed or attempted theft, directly from a person, of property or cash, by force or threat of force, with or without a weapon, and with or without injury.
  • Assault
    • Aggravated assault - Attack or attempted attack with a weapon, regardless of whether or not an injury occurred and attack without a weapon when serious injury resulted.
    • Simple assault - Attack without a weapon resulting either in no injury, minor injury (e.g., bruises, black eyes, cuts, scratches, or swelling), or an undetermined injury requiring fewer than two days of hospitalization. Also includes attempted assault without a weapon.
  • Purse snatching and pocket picking - Theft or attempted theft of property or cash directly from the victim by stealth, without force or threat of force.

Property crime

  • Burglary/trespassing - Includes unlawful or forcible entry or attempted entry of places, including a permanent residence, other residence (e.g., a hotel room or vacation residence), or other structure (e.g., a garage or shed). Includes victimizations where the offender stole, attempted to steal, or did not attempt to steal. Does not include trespassing on land.
    • Burglary – includes only crimes where the offender committed or attempted a theft.
    • Trespassing – includes crimes where the offender did not commit or attempt a theft. Does not include trespassing on land.
  • Theft - Completed or attempted theft of property or cash without personal contact. Incidents involving theft of property from within the sample household are classified as theft if the offender has a legal right to be in the house (e.g., a maid, delivery person, or guest). If the offender has no legal right to be in the house, the incident is classified as a burglary.
  • Motor-vehicle theft - Stealing or unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, including attempted thefts.

Data Collections & Surveys

Publications & Products


Criminal Victimization, 2018 This report is the 46th in a series that began in 1973. It provides official estimates of criminal victimizations reported and not reported to police from BJS's National Crime Victimization Survey.
  Press Release | Summary (PDF 480K) | Full report (PDF 730K) | Data tables (Zip format 49K)
Part of the Criminal Victimization Series

Criminal Victimization, 2017 Provides 2017 National Crime Victimization Survey data on violent and property crime victimizations reported and not reported to police and the annual change in criminal victimization from 2016.
  Press Release (198K) | Summary (PDF 193K) | Full report (PDF 620K) | Data tables (Zip format 39K)
Part of the Criminal Victimization Series

Criminal Victimization, 2016: Revised Provides revised official estimates, which replace previously released 2016 estimates that did not permit year-to-year-comparisons.
  Press Release (297K) | Summary (PDF 208K) | Full Report (PDF 478K) | Data Tables (Zip format 28K)
Part of the Criminal Victimization Series

Repeat Violent Victimization, 2005-14 Presents national data on the prevalence of repeat violent victimization and the characteristics of repeat violence.
  Press Release | Summary (PDF 182K) | PDF (556K) | ASCII file (26K) | Comma-delimited format (CSV) (Zip format 29K)
Part of the Criminal Victimization: National Crime Victimization Survey Series

Hate Crime Victimization, 2004-2015 Presents National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) data on hate crime victimization from 2004 to 2015.
  PowerPoint Presentation (Hate Crime Statistics, 2009 through 2017) (PDF 254K) | Press Release | Summary (PDF 189K) | PDF (773K) | ASCII file (32K) | Comma-delimited format (CSV) (Zip format 307K)
Part of the Hate Crime Series

Criminal Victimization, 2015 Presents national rates and levels of criminal victimization in 2015 and annual change from 2014.
  Press Release | Summary (PDF 203K) | PDF (818K) | ASCII file (47K) | Comma-delimited format (CSV) (Zip format 13K)
Part of the Criminal Victimization Series

Victims of Identity Theft, 2014 17.6 MILLION U.S. RESIDENTS EXPERIENCED IDENTITY THEFT IN 2014
  Press Release
Part of the Identity Theft Series

Victims of Identity Theft, 2014 Presents findings on the prevalence and nature of identity theft from the 2014 Identity Theft Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey.
  Press Release | Summary (PDF) | PDF (697KB) | ASCII file (41KB) | Comma-delimited format (CSV) (Zip format)
Part of the Identity Theft Series

Criminal Victimization, 2014 Presents 2014 estimates of rates and levels of criminal victimization in the United States.
  Press Release | PDF (745KB) | ASCII file (42KB) | Comma Separated Values (CSV) (Zip format)
Part of the Criminal Victimization Series

Crimes Against the Elderly, 2003-2013 Presents estimates on property and fatal and nonfatal violent victimization against persons age 65 or older from 2003 to 2013.
  Press Release | PDF (2.2M) | ASCII file (44K) | Comma-delimited format (CSV) (Zip format 42K)
Part of the Crimes against Persons Age 65 or Older Series

Terms & Definitions

Aggravated assault An attack or attempted attack with a weapon, regardless of whether an injury occurred, and an attack without a weapon when serious injury results.
With injury - An attack without a weapon when serious injury results or an attack with a weapon involving any injury. Serious injury includes broken bones, lost teeth, internal injuries, loss of consciousness, and any unspecified injury requiring two or more days of hospitalization.

Threatened with a weapon - Threat or attempted attack by an offender armed with a gun, knife, or other object used as a weapon that does not result in victim injury.

 
Assault An unlawful physical attack or threat of attack. Assaults may be classified as aggravated or simple. Rape, attempted rape, and sexual assaults are excluded from this category, as well as robbery and attempted robbery. The severity of assaults ranges from minor threats to nearly fatal incidents.
 
Burglary/trespassing Includes unlawful or forcible entry or attempted entry of places, including a permanent residence, other residence (e.g., a hotel room or vacation residence), or other structure (e.g., a garage or shed). Includes victimizations where the offender stole, attempted to steal, or did not attempt to steal. Does not include trespassing on land.
Burglary - Includes only crimes where the offender committed or attempted a theft.

Trespassing - Includes crimes where the offender did not commit or attempt a theft. Does not include trespassing on land.

 
Hate crime victimization Refers to a single victim or household that experienced a criminal incident believed by the victim to be motivated by prejudice based on race, gender or gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. BJS's National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) Hate Crime Statistics Program are the principal sources of annual information on hate crime in the United States and use the definition of hate crime provided in the Hate Crime Statistics Act (28 U.S.C. § 534).
 
Larceny The unlawful taking of property other than a motor vehicle from the possession of another, by stealth, without force or deceit. Includes pocket picking, nonforcible purse snatching, shoplifting, and thefts from motor vehicles. Excludes receiving and/or reselling stolen property (fencing) and thefts through fraud or deceit.