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Crime and the Elderly

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 1981
Based on data from the National Crime Survey over the past 8 years (1973-80), this report highlights the relative incidence of selected lesser and more serious crime against the Nation's 24 million elderly.

During the 8 years covered, there were no significant year-to-year changes in the overall rate of violent crime against the elderly, but the rate for 1979 was lower than that for several earlier years. The robbery rate for 1979 was also lower than that for certain earlier years. In addition, the ratio of robberies to assaults was 92 to 100 among the elderly but only about 24 to 100 among younger persons. This suggests that the elderly are particularly susceptible to personal crime that is motivated by the opportunity for economic gain. The report indicates that three-fourths of all personal crimes against the elderly were common thefts. The burglary rate for households headed by the elderly fell in the late 1970's, but the larceny rate for these households remained stable, and no trends were evident in the rate of motor vehicle thefts for households headed by the elderly. Overall, the report found that the elderly are less likely than other age groups to be crime victims. However, the trauma and economic impact of crime weigh more heavily on the elderly. Graphs and tabular data are included.

Date Published: December 1, 1981