This report presents the crime costs that the National Crime Survey (NCS) measures and identifies those crime costs it does not measure; it also considers why the total cost of crime to society is so difficult to determine.
Since 1973, the NCS has included a series of questions on economic losses from each of the crimes measured by the survey, including rape, robbery, assault, personal and household larceny, burglary, and motor vehicle theft. Those victimized by any of these crimes were asked a series of questions about the event, including the extent of medical expenses, cash and property losses, and property damage. These data are presented for 1981, 1980, and 1975, in current and adjusted dollars. The aggregate total economic loss is presented for various crime categories and victim categories to indicate magnitude. Median and quartile loss statistics are presented as additional measures of the economic cost of crime. The median loss indicates that half of the victims lost that much or more, while the other half lost that much or less. The quartiles give some indication of the variation in the range of losses. The NCS data are limited in not covering a broader range of crimes that involve economic loss and in not measuring indirect costs shared by everyone in society (such as criminal justice system costs or higher insurance premiums). Also, psychic costs, such as feelings of fear or anxiety, are not measured.