Crime And U.S. Households
U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
Bureau of Justice Statistics
Crime and the Nation's Households, 2002
February 2004, NCJ 201797
By Patsy A. Klaus
In 1994 a quarter of all U.S. households experienced a violent
or property crime. By 2002 the percentage of households
victimized had dropped to 15%
- In 2002 a violent crime against a person age 12 or older
occurred in 3% of U.S. households. In 1994, 7% of households
had a member who experienced one or more incidents of violence.
- About 4% of U.S. households in 2002 (half the 1994 percentage)
were either burglarized or had a member who was a victim of a
violent crime committed by a stranger.
- In both 1994 and 2002, less than 1% of households included a
member victimized by an intimate partner. In 2002 intimate partner
violence occurred in about 423,700 households.
- About 5% of households were vandalized at least once during
In 2002, 15% of the households in the United States, accounting for
16 million households, experienced 1 or more violent or property
crimes as measured by the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).
These crimes include rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated and
simple assault, purse snatching and pocket picking, household
burglary, motor vehicle theft, and theft.
In 2002, 3% of households had a member age 12 or older who
experienced one or more violent crimes. Simple assault was
the type of violent crime most often sustained. Thirteen percent
of households experienced one or more property crimes, with theft
the most frequent type.
Measuring crime by counting the affected households gives an
understanding of the dispersion of crime in the Nation. Some
households account for multiple victimizations. When interpreted
in relation to the criminal victimization statistics reported in
the annual BJS Bulletin (such as Criminal Victimization, 2002, the
households-victimized-by-crime indicator sharpens the focus
on who is more likely to experience crime.
10% of U.S. households had one or more thefts
About 16 million households experienced 1 or more of the
victimizations measured by the NCVS, an ongoing household survey
that collects information about crimes both unreported and reported
to the police. Victimized households sustained some kind of
property crime or had a member age 12 or older who was victimized
by violence. These households constituted about 15% of the 110.3
million households in the United States. Theft, affecting 1 in 10
households, was the most frequent crime.
About 3% of households had an adolescent or adult member who was
victimized by one or more incidents of violence during the year.
(NCVS relies on interviews with household members and does not
estimate victimizations of children younger than 12.) Simple
assault was the most frequent type of violence encountered. About
21/2 million households experienced simple assault, which does not
result in serious injury and does not involve a weapon.
In 2002 less than 1% of households had members victimized by more
than one type of violence, including rape, sexual assault, robbery,
and aggravated assault. For this prevalence measure, households that
experienced the same type of crime more than once were counted only
once for that victimization. For example, a household with two
members victimized by a simple assault was counted once for simple
assault. Similarly, a household burglarized twice during the year
was counted once for burglary.
About 1% of households were victimized by both violent and property
crimes. Such households were counted once in the violent crime measure,
once in the property crime measure, and once in the overall measure.
In 2002 "crimes of high concern" occurred in
3.9% of households
About 1 in every 26 households sustained violence by a stranger or
a household burglary during 2002. The portion of households affected
by these NCVS crimes, often cited as among the most fear provoking,
has fallen steadily since 1994.
Intimate partner violence affected about
4 households in 1,000 during 2002
Intimate partner violence, which is committed by a current or former
spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend, was experienced by members of less
than 1% of all households. Because the household indicator counts a
household only once for each type of crime, it does not measure
repeated victimizations or victimizations of more than one household
member during the year.
Prevalence of crime higher for households
of Hispanics, urbanites, and residents in
Households headed by Hispanics (19%) were more likely than those of
non-Hispanics (14%) to be victimized by crime in 2002.
Households in urban areas (19%) were more likely to experience one
or more crimes than suburban households (13%) and rural households
(11%) in 2002.
Compared to other regions, households in the West were more likely
to be victims of measured crimes (19%). In the Midwest and South
14% of households had members who were victims of crimes, and in
the Northeast, 11%.
Household size affected the likelihood of experiencing criminal
victimization in 2002. Twenty-six percent of households with six
or more persons and 21% of households made up of four or five
persons experienced one or more crimes, compared to 14% of
households with two or three persons and 10% of one-person
Vandalism of residences or other property
owned by an individual
Over 5.4 million households, 4.9% of all U.S. households, had at
least one incident of vandalism in 2002. First compiled by the
NCVS in 2001, vandalism is not included in the overall measure of
households experiencing victimization. If vandalism is included
in the overall measure, the total percentage of households
experiencing a crime rises from 15% to 18%.
Prevalence of crime in households decreased
from 1994 to 2002
Between 1994 and 2002 the extent to which households experienced
crime declined. About 1 in 7 households experienced one or more
crimes in 2002, compared to 1 in 4 households in 1994. The
percentage of households experiencing either violent or property
crime also declined. In 2002, 3% of households had a member who
experienced at least one violent crime, compared to 7% in 1994.
For property crimes, 12% of households were affected in 2002,
compared to 21% in 1994.
Households-victimized-by-crime measures count each household once,
regardless of the number of times a household experienced a
particular crime in a calendar year. For the overall indicator,
household-based crime estimates are derived from NCVS statistics
on rape/sexual assault, robbery, assault, personal theft, household
burglary, household theft, and motor vehicle theft. A household is
counted if anyone in the household experienced one or more of any
of these crimes within the year. For categories such as violent
crime by a stranger or intimate partner crime, a household is
counted if person(s)in the households were victimized one or more
times by that particular type of crime.
First collected in 2001, vandalism is excluded from the overall
estimate. When vandalism is included, 18% of households
experienced a measured crime in 2002.
Comparisons presented in this report were determined to be
statistically significant at the 95% confidence level, meaning
that the estimated difference is greater than twice the standard