U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Crimes against Persons Age 65 or Older, 1992-97

ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 4:30 P.M. EST                                         BJS
SUNDAY, JANUARY 9, 2000                                                     202/307-0784 

     WASHINGTON, D.C.   People 65 and older are substantially less
likely to be violent crime victims than are younger men and women,
according to a new report published today by the Justice
Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).
     Each year from 1992 through 1997 there were 5 violent crimes
per 1,000 U.S. residents 65 years old or older, less than a tenth
the rate of 56 crimes per 1,000 of those age 12 through 64, according
to the BJS National Crime Victimization Survey.
     The only crime category that affected the elderly at about the
same rate as most others (except those ages 12-24) was personal theft,
which includes purse snatching and pocket picking.
     Of all victimizations of older people during the seven-year
period, 92 percent were property crimes, compared to 72 percent for
people under 65 years old.  During the study period there was an average
of 2.5 million property crimes (household burglary, motor vehicle theft
and household theft) against the elderly per year, 46,090 purse snatchings
or pocket pickings, 165,330  non-lethal violent crimes (rape, robbery,
and aggravated and simple assaults) and 1,000 murders.
      Although the elderly as a whole experienced generally lower crime
rates than younger people, there were differences within the elderly
population.  Higher rates were experienced by blacks when compared with
whites, by Hispanics when compared with non-Hispanics, and  by  elderly
men compared with elderly women.  Among households with an elderly head of 
household, property crime rates were higher for those having annual incomes
of over $50,000.   These ethnic, gender and income patterns for the elderly
population are similar to those that have been found for other age groups
in other BJS studies.
    Other findings from the study include--
    * A weapon of some type was more likely to be used in violent crimes
against the elderly, compared to younger age groups.
    * Of the 165,330 elderly persons who were victims of non-fatal
violence each year between 1992 and 1997, about 22 percent were injured, and
about 6 percent received treatment of some type at a hospital.
    * Relatives, intimates and other persons well known to the victim
committed about one-fifth of the violence against people 65 years old or older.
    * Crimes against the elderly were more likely to occur in or near their
homes and in the day rather than at night, compared to crimes against younger
    * Differences in lifestyle may account in part for when and where these
crimes occurred. 

About 22 percent of  elderly violence victims reported that they never
went out at night for entertainment, shopping or other activities compared
 to about 3 percent of victims under age 50.
     Although people 65 or older made up 15 percent of the population,
they accounted for 7 percent of all victims of crimes measured in the
     In 1995 about 4 percent of the elderly about 1.4 million men and
women lived in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities which
are not covered by the victimization survey.
     The report, "Crimes Against Persons Age 65 or Older, 1992-97"
(NCJ- 176352) , was written by BJS statistician Patsy A. Klaus.  Single
copies may be obtained from the BJS  fax-on-demand system by dialing
301/519-5550, listening to the complete menu and  selecting document
number 182. Or call the BJS clearinghouse number: 1-800-732-3277.
Fax orders for mail delivery to 410/792-4358.  The BJS Internet
site is:
     Additional criminal justice materials can be obtained from
the Office of Justice Programs homepage at:

                       # # # 

After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354
Date Published: January 9, 2000