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According to the Crime Victimization Report 2005, American citizens have experienced 23 million violent (rape, robbery, aggravated assault) and property (burglary, motor vehicle theft, theft) victimizations. Even though the violent crime rate remained unchanged in 2004-2005 and the property crime rate declined, it is vital to track and analyze the crime incidents to get a better understanding of crime sociology. This report is aimed at outlining the key findings coming from various data sources to crime data, the trends in crime rates, types of crimes, and victim characterization changes.
The report presents data on violent and property crimes from the National Crime Victimization Survey and data on homicide from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting System. Both of these sources are official. Primary information was collected through personal interviews of 77,000 households and 134,000 individuals (response rate 90.7% for households and 84.3% for individuals). Information collected through interviews can be considered unofficial.
Types of crimes
Year 2005 was marked by increase in firearm violence the 24% of all violent crime incidents committed by an armed offender (9% by an offender with a firearm). It was investigated that males were more vulnerable to violence by strangers, while females were more often victimized by non-strangers. Only 47% of all violent victimizations and 40% of all property crimes were reported to police. The incidents of violent crimes have decreased for rape/sexual assault only, while increased for robbery and aggravated assault. Incidents of personal theft and household burglary have increased, while incidents of motor vehicle theft and theft have decreased.
In addition, the number of persons murdered has increased by 4.8% between years 2004 and 2005. Based on this information, the homicide rate for 2005 was estimated as 5.7 per 100,000 individuals. Moreover, the increase in number of murders was the most significant in Midwest and South. Average annual rates of attempted or threatened violence, robbery with injury and simple assault (without injury) has declined. According to collected data, the estimated crime victimization rates in 2005 were the lowest in the past thirty years. Comparing changes in crime victimizations rates, the overall violent crime rate fell 58% between years 1993 and 2005. Sexual assault fell 69%, robbery – 57%, aggravated assault – 64%, simple assault – 54%, household burglary – 49%, motor vehicle theft – 56%, and theft rate fell 52%.
Characteristics of victims
According to the report, violent victimization has decline in every demographic group: for males rate declined 57%, against females fell 58%. As NCVS survey suggested, the rate of violence among whites in 2005 was 20.1 per 1,000, for blacks 27.0, and for other races 13.9. Males were victims of overall violent crime while females were victims of sexual assault. Rates for white victims were lower (rape, overall violence, and robbery) than those for black victims. In addition, blacks were more likely than representatives of other races to be victims of violence.
The decline has been traced in violent crime rates for victims residing in households earning $15,000-$24,999 per year (39% decline). Violent crime rates for individuals living in households with different income categories declined by 50%. Notably the decline in crime level for households in urban areas has declined by 51%, in suburban areas by 54%, and in rural areas by 49% between 1993 and 2005. It means that the slowest decline is traced in rural areas, while urban residents experience crimes at rates higher than those for rural residents (except for the crime of rape – rural residents report higher rate).
Report contains murder and victim characteristics as collected in 2004, however, it does not provide the same data for year 2005, thus it is impossible to trace the change in victim characterization between years 2004 and 2005. For example, 78% of murder victims were males, half of them were whites, 77% of offenders knew the victim and only 23% were strangers, firearms were used in 70%, offenders were mostly male (90%), homicide was intraracial, and arguments were the most often cited cause of murder (44%). Unfortunately, there is no information on these characteristics for year 2005 and it is impossible to trace the change.
In summary, the crime victimization rate tends to decline continuously. The change in crime rates between years 1993 and 2005 has decreased by more than 50% for all crime types. The gathered information can be used to draw the sociological portray of criminal offenders for every crime type and country region. The studied report has provided valuable statistics on changes in overall violent crime rate, property crime rate, victims and offenders characteristics, and provided the change rate for different geographic areas.