According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, property crimes have steadily declined since 1994, as have violent crimes, with a 5.5% decrease from 2008 to 2009. In fact, violent crime rates were at the lowest level ever recorded in 2009 – down 6.1% from 2008. The FBI Uniform Crime Reports Program provides annual information regarding crimes reported to local and national law enforcement personnel. These statistics are classified as property or violent crime, which includes the following offenses:
- Forcible Rape
- Aggravated Assault
- Motor Vehicle Theft
The Bureau of Justice Statistics provides an annual National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which provides statistics regarding both reported and unreported crimes in the U.S. Using both of these sources, from the victim’s perspective and that of law enforcement personnel, helps to draw a more complete picture of the national crime trends.
NCVS vs. FBI Crime Statistics for Violent and Property Crimes
In 2008, the NCVS reported 4,581,260 violent crimes and 16,319,180 property crimes. That same year, the FBI reported 1,392,629 violent crimes and 9,775,149 property crimes. Among these numbers, the NCVS received 200,520 reports of rape/sexual assault, and the FBI received 90,479 reports of forcible rape. Please note the NCVS numbers include reports of threatened rape or assault. In addition, the FBI UCR lists 443,574 cases of robbery and the NCVS lists 504,110 of these crimes. Finally, the FBI reports 842,134 cases of aggravated assault, while the NCVS reports 768,770 cases.
On the property crime list, the FBI reported 2,228,474 cases of burglary and 794,616 cases of motor vehicle theft, with a total of 9,775,149 cases of personal crime. The NCVS provides data stating that 795,160 cases of motor vehicle theft and a total of 16,319,180 property crimes were reported by victims.
The obvious disparity in statistics provided by the two agencies lies in the fact that many of NCVS’s crimes were unreported by victims. Top reasons for not reporting a crime included that the crime occurred as a private or personal matter, the offender was unsuccessful in completing the crime, or a different official was notified other than law enforcement. Others include that the police were ineffective or biased, or that the victims feared reprisal or lacked proof of the crime occurring.
White-Collar Crime Statistics
According to white-collar crime statistics provided by the FBI’s UCR, a total of 5,428,613 incidents of economic “Group A” crimes were reported in 2009. These include offenses such as bribery, counterfeiting, embezzlement, arson and fraud. “Group B” offenses include bad checks, and 135,060 of those were reported. In addition, arrest rates for embezzlement, forgery & counterfeiting are reported to be much lower than those reported for fraud and property crime – 6.5 and 40.7 per 100,000 inhabitants compared to 131.5 and 635.5, respectively.
The Whole Picture
Summarizing the above information brings the conclusion that in the U.S., property crime is the biggest threat to society, with nearly 10 million occurrences, and a little more than half of that occurring in the white-collar crime categories. Violent crime is nearing one million occurrences on an annual basis, and property crimes have steadily decreased since 2002, as violent crimes have displayed reduced rates since 2006.