Victimization

IV. Patterns and Trends in Victimization Rates

Consistent trends over time are evident from the UCR and NCVS. First, both sources have consistently reported that the annual property crime rate is larger than the violent crime rate. For example, the 2006 UCR reports that there were 3,334.5 property victimizations per 100,000 inhabitants of the United States, compared with 473.5 violent victimizations per 100,000. Second, both sources reported that crime rates have been declining over time. Figure 20.1 shows that the NCVS property crime rates have been steadily declining since 1973. Figure 20.2 shows that, since 1994, violent crime rates have declined, reaching the lowest level ever in 2005. The UCR reported that from 1996 to 2005, the violent crime rate decreased 26.3% and the property crime rate fell 22.9%.

A. Personal Victimization

The NCVS has consistently reported that assault is the most frequently occurring personal victimization. Of the two types of assault, victims experience approximately three times more simple assaults than aggravated assaults. To illustrate, the 2005 NCVS estimated 13.5 simple assaults per 1,000 persons age 12 and older compared with 4.3 aggravated assaults per 1,000 persons age 12 and older. Robbery was the next most frequent, with 2.6 per 1,000 persons age 12 and older; rape was next at 0.03 per 1,000 persons age 12 and older. Murder was the least frequently occurring crime—an estimated rate of 5.7 per 100,000 inhabitants as reported by the UCR.

Demographic differences in personal victimization rates have also consistently been reported in the NCVS. In 2005, for example, persons of two or more races had the highest rates of violent victimization (83.6 per 1,000 persons age 12 and older), followed by blacks (27 per 1,000 persons age 12 and older), Hispanics (25 per 1,000 persons age 12 and older), whites (20.1 per 1,000 persons age 12 and older), and all other races (Native Americans, Native Alaskans, etc.; 13.9 per 1,000 persons age 12 and older).

Males had higher violent victimization rates than females. Males were almost 4 times more likely than females to be murdered in 2005. Males’ violent crime rate was 25.5, compared with females’ rate of 17.1 per 1,000 persons age 12 and older.

Victims of violence tend to be young and less likely to experience a violent victimization as they age. The age group most at risk was the 20–24 age group (46.9 per 1,000 persons age 12 and older), followed by the 16–19 group (44.2 per 1,000 persons age 12 and older), the 12–15 group (44 per 1,000 persons age 12 and older), the 25–34 group (23.6 per 1,000 persons age 12 and older), the 35–49 group (17.5 per 1,000 persons age 12 and older), the 50–64 group (11.4 per 1,000 persons age 12 and older) and, finally, the 65-and-older age group (2.4 per 1,000 persons age 12 and older). Interestingly, the relationship between age and victimization is very similar to the relationship between age and crime.

Figure 1. U.S. Violent Crime Rates, 1973–2005

Victimization Figure 1

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (2005). National Crime Victimization Survey. Washington, DC

B. Property Victimization

Theft was the most frequent property victimization to occur in 2005, with 116.2 victimizations per 1,000 households; followed by household burglary, with 29.5 victimizations per 1,000 households; and motor vehicle theft, with 8.4 victimizations per 1,000 households. The overall property victimization rate was 154 per 1,000 households. The NCVS presents victimization information for a number of victim characteristics. As an example, the nature of one’s housing (rent or own) shows that people who rent were victimized more than those who own (192.3 compared with 136.5 victimizations per 1,000 households). The location of the residence is also presented in the NCVS. People living in urban locations experience the most property victimizations (200 per 1,000 households), followed by suburban residents (141.4 per 1,000 households), and then rural residents (125.1 per 1,000 households).

Figure 2. U.S. Property Crime Rates, 1973–2005

Victimization Figure 2

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (2005). National Crime Victimization Survey. Washington, DC

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