The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) is one of two major sources of crime statistics in the United States. It collects information on nonfatal crimes by surveying a nationally representative sample of U.S. households.
After declining by more than 60% from 1994 to 2015 (the most recent year in which a 1-year decline was observed), the number of violent-crime victims rose from 2015 to 2016, and again from 2016 to 2018, BJS announced today in a report based on the NCVS.
Among U.S. residents age 12 or older, the number of violent-crime victims rose from 2.7 million in 2015 to 3.3 million in 2018, an increase of 604,000 victims. This overall rise was driven by increases in the number of victims of rape or sexual assault (from 204,000 in 2015 to 347,000 in 2018), aggravated assault (from 561,000 to 694,000) and simple assault (from 1.7 million to 2.1 million).
From 2015 to 2018, the portion of the U.S. population age 12 or older who were victims of violent crime increased from 0.98% to 1.18% (up 20%). Over that same span, the portion of white persons age 12 or older who were victims of violent crime increased from 0.96% to 1.19% (up 24%), while the portion of males who were violent-crime victims increased from 0.94% to 1.21% (up 29%). The portion of females who were violent-crime victims increased from 1.03% to 1.16% (up 13%).
There was no statistically significant 1-year change in the number of victims age 12 or older from 2017 to 2018; however, the number of violent incidents (the number of specific criminal acts involving one or more victims) increased from 5.2 million in 2017 to 6.0 million in 2018.
Based on the 2018 survey, the offender was of the same race or ethnicity as the victim in 70% of violent incidents involving black victims, 62% of those involving white victims, 45% of those involving Hispanic victims, and 24% of those involving Asian victims.
While violent crime rose in recent years, property crime fell, as the percentage of households that were victims of property crime decreased from 7.99% in 2014 to 7.27% in 2018. Over that same span, the percentage of households that were victims of burglary fell from 1.27% to 1.07%.
As a result of this decline in property crime, the percentage of U.S. residents age 12 or older who were victims of serious crimes decreased from 1.89% in 2014 to 1.68% in 2018. Serious crimes are those that are generally prosecuted as felonies, including most completed or attempted violent crimes apart from simple assault, as well as completed burglaries and motor-vehicle thefts. The decline in serious crimes was driven by a decrease in the portion of persons who were victims of completed burglary, which fell from 1.22% in 2014 to 0.98% in 2018.
The total number of violent victimizations (that is, the total number of times that people were victims of violent crime) increased from 5,007,000 victimizations of U.S. residents age 12 or older in 2015 to 6,386,000 victimizations in 2018. Across that period, the rate of violent victimizations increased from 18.6 to 23.2 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older. Excluding simple assault, the rate of violent victimizations increased from 6.8 to 8.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older.
The increase in the rate of violent victimizations was largely due to crimes that were not reported to police. From 2015 to 2018, the rate of violent victimizations that went unreported to police rose from 9.5 to 12.9 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older, while the rate of violent victimizations that were reported to police showed no statistically significant change.
There were increases in some forms of violent victimizations from 2017 to 2018. The total rate of completed (as opposed to attempted or threatened) violent victimizations increased from 5.6 to 6.9 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older over that span, while the rate of rape or sexual assault (completed, attempted, or threatened) increased from 1.4 to 2.7 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older.
Based on the 2018 survey, the rate of violent victimizations against U.S. citizens (23.9 victimizations per 1,000 U.S. citizens) was higher than the rate against non-U.S. citizens (12.5 victimizations per 1,000 non-U.S. citizens). The citizenship status of offenders is unavailable because many victims have no way of knowing their offenders’ citizenship status.
The report, Criminal Victimization, 2018 (NCJ 253043), was written by BJS statisticians Rachel E. Morgan and Barbara A. Oudekerk. The report, related documents and additional information about BJS’s statistical publications and programs are available on the BJS website at www.bjs.gov. The Bureau of Justice Statistics of the U.S. Department of Justice is the principal federal agency responsible for collecting, analyzing and disseminating reliable statistics on crime and criminal justice in the United States. Jeffrey H. Anderson is the director.