Crime Victimization About the Same as Last Year

by David W. Moore

One in 20 households experienced violent crime

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup's annual update on crime in the United States shows that 26% of all households experienced some type of crime during the past year, with 14% mentioning one incident and another 12% mentioning two or more incidents. The poll also shows that 32% of crime incidents in the past year were not reported to the police.

A similar poll conducted a year ago found virtually the same level of victimization (25%), along with a slightly higher rate of reporting the crime to the police (71%, compared with 68% this year). The differences in victimization and reporting rates are well within the poll's margin of error.

As shown in the table below, the two most frequently mentioned crimes in four polls Gallup has conducted since 2000 were having one's home, car, or property vandalized (11% to 15%) and having money or property stolen (11% to 14%).

 

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

CRIME INCIDENT

2003

2002

2001

2000

%

%

%

%

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

15

15

11

12

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

14

12

11

14

Your house or apartment broken into

5

5

3

4

A car owned by you or another household member stolen

3

4

3

4

You or other household member mugged or physically assaulted

2

3

3

3

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

1

1

2

You or other household member sexually assaulted

1

2

na

1

Net Percentage of Households Experiencing Any Crime

26

25

22

24

Net Percentage of Households Experiencing Violent Crime

5

4

4

3

Percentage of All Crime Not Reported to Police

32

29

33

29



Five percent of respondents this year say their house or apartment was broken into, 3% that a car owned by someone in the household was stolen, 2% that someone in the household was mugged or physically assaulted, and 2% that someone in the household was robbed. Another 1% say that someone in the household was sexually assaulted. A net total of 5% of all American households experienced one or more violent crimes.

Internet Crime

For the first time, Gallup asked about Internet crime. Six percent of all respondents report that they or someone in their household was the victim of a "computer or Internet-based crime, such as fraud or computer hacking, while using your home computer."

The net effect of adding Internet crime to the crime rate is to increase the overall incidence of household crime from 26% to 30%.

Crime Highest Among the Young and Nonwhites, Least Among the Elderly

While there are some variations over the past three years, the table below shows that the highest rates of victimization continue to be among young adults. Also, nonwhites experienced much more crime than whites. People 65 and older are by far the least likely of any demographic groups Gallup measured to report any experience with crime.

 

CRIME INCIDENTS COMPARED BY SELECTED DEMOGRAPHICS

(Percentage Experiencing Any Crime During Past Year)

2003

2002

2001

2000

%

%

%

%

All Households

26

25

22

24

Age

18-29

41

43

30

39

30-49

26

25

27

25

50-64

25

20

17

19

65+

10

12

8

8

Region

East

24

24

19

20

Midwest

24

26

20

23

South

27

20

22

30

West

28

33

29

22

Community

Urban

29

35

28

32

Suburban

27

20

20

23

Rural

19

23

21

16

Race

White

23

22

21

23

Nonwhite

37

36

32

31

Income

<$20,000

25

27

21

18

$20,000-<$30,000

31

29

27

34

$30,000-<$50,000

28

26

26

19

$50,000-<$75,000

27

21

19

28

$75,000+

20

28

22

19

Gender

Male

23

22

21

27

Female

28

28

23

21



Major findings:

  • Last year, the most pronounced difference in the crime rate from the previous year was found among younger Americans, who experienced a significant increase in crime -- from 30% in 2001 to 43% in 2002. The rate among younger Americans remains at this elevated level -- 41% this year.
  • Differences among the four regions of the country are reduced. Last year, the South reported the lowest rate (20%) and the West the highest rate (33%) -- a difference of 13 points. This year, the lowest rate is in the East and Midwest (24% each), with the South and West reporting somewhat higher rates (27% and 28%, respectively) -- a difference between the highest and lowest of just four points.
  • Urban households continue to report the highest crime rate (29%), but suburban households are not far behind (27%), while rural households again report the lowest rate (19%).
  • Nonwhite households report about the same level of crime as last year (37% vs. 36%, respectively), which remains somewhat higher than the rates in 2001 (32%) and 2000 (31%).
  • The gap in crime rates between white and nonwhite households remains substantial -- 14 percentage points the past two years (37% in nonwhite, 23% in white households in 2003).
  • For the past two years, women have reported slightly higher rates than men (28% vs. 23% this year). In 2001, the rates were about equal, while in 2000, men reported a higher rate than women.

Survey Methods

The results reported here are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected sample of 1,017 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 6-8, 2003. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3 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.

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