The violent crime rate declined from 19.3 to 17.1 victimizations per 1,000 persons during 2009, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, announced today. This decline continued a longer-run decline from 51.2 victimizations per 1,000 persons in 1994 and brought violent crime rates to their lowest levels since 1973, the first year that BJS collected data from crime victims through its National Criminal Victimization Survey (NCVS).
The property crime rate declined during 2009 from 134.7 to 127.4 crimes per 1,000 households, primarily as a result of a decrease in theft. This decline continued a longer-term trend of declining rates from 553.6 crimes per 1,000 households in 1975.
In 2009, an estimated 4.3 million violent crimes (rapes or sexual assaults, robberies, aggravated assaults and simple assaults) occurred, as well as an estimated 15.6 million property crimes (burglaries, motor vehicle thefts and household thefts) and 133,000 personal thefts (picked pockets and snatched purses). These offenses included both crimes reported and unreported to police.
Violent and property crime rates in 2009 remain at the lowest levels recorded since 1973, the first year that such data were collected. The rate of every major violent and property crime measured by BJS fell between 2000 and 2009. The overall violent crime rate fell 39 percent and the property crime rate declined by 29 percent during the last 10 years.
Between 2000 and 2009, the rate of firearm violence declined from 2.4 incidents per 1,000 persons age 12 or older to 1.4 per 1,000 persons. Offenders used firearms in 8 percent of all violent crimes in 2009.
In 2009, men were slightly more likely than women to be victims of violent crime. Women were more likely than men to be victimized by someone they knew. Seventy percent of all violent crimes against women were committed by a known offender (an intimate, family member or friend/acquaintance), compared to 45 percent of violence against men. Twenty-six percent of the non-fatal violence against women was committed by an intimate (current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend), compared to 5 percent of the violence against men.
Nearly half of all violent crimes and about 40 percent of all property crimes were reported to police in 2009. Of the violent crimes, robbery (68 percent) and aggravated assault (58 percent) were most reported. Fifty-five percent of rape/sexual assaults and 42 percent of simple assaults were reported to the police. A higher percentage of motor vehicle thefts (85 percent) than burglaries (57 percent) and thefts (32 percent) were reported to police.
These findings are drawn from BJS’s National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), the nation’s primary source for information on the frequency, characteristics and consequences of criminal victimization. Conducted since 1973, the NCVS is one of the largest continuous surveys conducted by the Federal government. In 2009, 38,728 households and 68,665 individuals age 12 or older were interviewed twice during the year for the NCVS.
Estimates from the NCVS, which includes offenses both reported and unreported to police, complement those from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR), which measures crimes reported to law enforcement agencies across the Nation. Unlike the NCVS, the UCR includes crimes against persons of all ages and businesses, as well as fatal crimes. UCR results released by the FBI in September showed a 6.1 percent decline in the rates of violent crimes reported to the police and a 5.5 percent decline in the rates of property crimes during 2009.
The report, Criminal Victimization, 2009 (NCJ 231327), was written by BJS statisticians Jennifer Truman and Michael Rand. Following publication, the report can be found at Criminal Victimization.
For additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ statistical reports and programs, please visit the BJS on the Web.