U.S. Crime Victimization Trends Flat

by Joseph Carroll

Three in 10 say they or another household member has been victimized

PRINCETON, NJ -- There has been little change in the percentage of Americans who report that they were crime victims in the past year, according to Gallup's annual Crime poll. Overall, about 3 out of 10 Americans say they or another member of their household has been victimized by crime in the past year, with about one in five saying they personally were the victim. Of those who have been crime victims, about half say they were victimized on multiple occasions. Five percent report that a member of their household was the victim of a violent crime, including 2% who say they themselves were the victim. The most commonly reported crimes are property theft and vandalism.

Crime Victimization Trends

Each year, Gallup asks Americans if they or someone in their household has been the victim of eight separate crimes, ranging from theft and vandalism to more serious crimes such as armed robbery and assault.

The combined results to those questions from the Oct. 4-7, 2007, poll show 29% of Americans reporting that they or someone in their household has been a crime victim in the past year. Of those victimized, 15% say it happened once and 14% two or more times, meaning roughly half of victimized households were targeted on multiple occasions during the previous 12 months.

Gallup polling over the last few years shows household crime reports peaking in 2005, when 32% said their households were victimized by crime, but that percentage does not differ much from other years.

Nineteen percent of respondents said they personally (rather than another member of their household) were crime victims in the past year, with 11% victimized once and 8% two or more times. Individual-level crime rates have also been relatively stable in recent years.

Americans' Reports of Crime Victimization
in the Past Year

 

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

 

%

%

%

%

%

Household victimized by crime

29

28

32

30

30

(Household victimized by crime once)

15

16

18

18

17

(Household victimized by crime two or more times)

14

12

14

12

13

 

 

 

 

 

 

Individual victimized by crime

19

18

21

21

21

(Individual victimized by crime once)

11

12

14

14

14

(Individual victimized by crime two or more times)

8

6

7

7

7

Five percent of Americans report that someone in their household has been a victim of violent crime in the past year; 2% have personally been a violent crime victim. Reports of crime on an individual basis have shown little change in the past few years.

Americans' Reports of Violent Crime Victimization 
in the Past Year

 

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

Household victimized by violent crime

5

4

5

4

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Individual victimized by violent crime

2

2

3

2

2

The longer-term trend on crime victimization, which goes back to 2000 but excludes reports of crime involving home computers (such as fraud or hacking), also shows little change this year.

Twenty-four percent of Americans say their household was victimized by a crime other than an Internet-based crime in the past year, with 12% of those victimized once and 12% two or more times. The percentage victimized by crime two or more times (12%) is the highest reading since 2000, but it is not significantly higher than at other points in the past seven years.

One in six Americans (16%) say they have personally been victims of non-computer-based crime in the past year. Nine percent of these victims were targeted once and 7% two or more times.

In addition to asking about crime incidence, the poll also asked crime victims whether each crime they mentioned was reported to police. This is an important distinction because many crime statistics are based on official incidents filed with law enforcement officials, which may or may not be representative of the actual rate of criminal behavior in the population.

When computer-based crimes are included, the poll finds a slight increase in the percentage of crimes that victims say were reported to the police, to 69% from 62% last year. In Gallup trends from 2003 to 2006, the percentage of victims indicating that they reported a crime to the police ranged between 56% and 65%.

For the longer trend, which excludes crimes involving the computer, nearly three in four Americans say they have reported crimes to the police. This measure is at its highest point to date -- up eight points since last year. Since 2000, the low point in reporting non-computer-based crime was 62% in 2004 and the previous high was 71% in 2000 and 2002.

Types of Crimes Committed

Of the crimes measured in the survey, Americans are most likely to say they were victimized by having money or property stolen (15%) or by having their home, car, or property vandalized (14%). Eight percent say they were victims of computer or Internet crime in the past year. Respondents are least likely to say they were victims of the following crimes: having their home or apartment broken into (4%); theft of a household member’s car (4%); mugging or physical assault (3%); having money or property taken by force with a gun, knife, or other weapon (2%); or sexual assault (1%).

Please tell me which, if any, of these incidents have happened to you or your household within the last 12 months?

(Oct. 4-7, 2007)

Yes

No

 

%

%

Money or property stolen from you or another member of your household

15

85

A home, car, or property owned by you or another household member vandalized

14

86

You or another household member was the victim of a computer or Internet-based crime, such as fraud or computer hacking, while using your home computer

8

92

Your house or apartment broken into

4

96

A car owned by you or another household member stolen

4

96

You or another household member mugged or physically assaulted

3

97

Money or property taken from you or another household member by force, with gun, knife, weapon, or physical attack, or by threat of force

2

98

You or another household member sexually assaulted

1

98

These measures have shown little change since Gallup first started tracking them annually in 2000 (2003 for the computer question).

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,010 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 4-7, 2007. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ¬Ī3 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Get Articles in Related Topics:


Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/102658/US-Crime-Victimization-Trends-Flat.aspx
Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030