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Criminal Victimization, 1997: Changes 1996-97 with Trends 1993-97

Criminal Victimization 1997: Changes 1996-97 
with Trends 1993-97  -- press release

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 27, 1998            202/307-0784


     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The nation's violent
crime rate fell almost 7 percent during 1997, the
Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics
(BJS) announced today.  It has fallen more than 21
percent since 1993.  Violent crime rates began
rising in the mid 1980s but have since fallen to
the lowest level since 1973, when BJS began its
National Crime Victimization Survey.

     There were an estimated 39 violent
victimizations per 1,000 U.S. residents 12 years
old and older during 1997, compared to 42 during
1996, 50 during 1993 and 48 during 1973.

     Property crimes were also at their lowest
post-1973 rates.  There were an estimated 248
attempted or completed property crimes per 1,000
U.S. households during 1997, compared to 266
during 1996,  319 during 1993 and 554 during 1973. 
Property crime rates have decreased steadily since

     The nation's murder rate fell by 8 percent
during 1997, according to the Federal Bureau of  
Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR).  The
18,210 murders during 1997 was 28 percent lower
than in 1993.            

     Robbery was the only violent crime whose rate
fell significantly (down more than 17 percent)
during 1997.  The simple assault rate decreased
slightly.  An apparent decrease in the rate for
aggravated assault was not significant.  The rate
for rape/sexual assault did not change from the
previous year.

     And although the overall property crime rate
fell during 1997, the only property crime that
decreased significantly during the year was theft
(down 8 percent).  Apparent changes in the rates
for household burglary and motor vehicle theft
were not statistically significant.

     The decreases in violent and property crime
trends since 1993 were experienced by most
segments of the population.  Males and females,
blacks and whites and those at different income 
levels all experienced declining violent crime and
property crime rates during this period.  However,
the 1997 violent crime rates for persons age 50
and older were not lower than they had been in

     In 1997, as in previous years, males were
more vulnerable to violent crime than females,
younger people more vulnerable than older people
and blacks more vulnerable than whites.  Persons
in urban areas had violent and property crime
rates that were higher than the rates for suburban
and rural residents.  

     By region, people residing in the West had
violent and property crime rates that were higher
than those for residents in the Northeast, Midwest
or South.

     About half of all violent crimes in 1997 were
committed by someone whom the victim knew. Victims
of rape and sexual assaults were the most likely
to have known the offender, and victims of robbery
were least likely.

     The survey, the federal government's second
largest household poll, interviewed approximately
80,000 people in about 43,000 households twice
during 1997, asking about criminal incidents and
whether or not they were reported to law
enforcement agencies.  

     A little more than 37 percent of all crimes
were reported to police (44 percent of all violent
crimes, 31 percent of rapes and sexual attacks, 56
percent of robberies and 44 percent of simple and
aggravated assaults).  Motor vehicle theft was the
most reported (80 percent), primarily because of
insurance considerations.  The survey's estimates
of the number of crimes reported to law
enforcement agencies are consistent with the FBI's
UCR data, both in terms of the levels and changes
since 1996.  

     The survey report, "Criminal Victimization
1997, Changes 1996-97 with Trends 1993-97" (NCJ
173385), was written by BJS statistician Michael
Rand.  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 139.  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:
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After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354    

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Date Created: May 27, 2009