The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) collects information from victims on nonfatal violent and property crimes, reported and not reported to the police, against persons age 12 or older from a nationally representative sample of U.S. households. It produces national rates and levels of personal and property victimization.
- Violent crimes measured include rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault.
- Property crimes include burglary/trespassing, motor-vehicle theft, and other types of theft.
One difference between a sheriff's office and police department is the jurisdiction that each type of agency covers. While both sheriffs' offices and police departments are law enforcement agencies, sheriffs' offices have countywide jurisdiction and police departments' authority is limited to specific cities, municipalities, towns, or villages. In addition, sheriffs' offices are generally empowered by the state to serve counties and independent cities, while police departments are established under municipal regulations. The head of a sheriff's office is a sheriff who is usually an elected official. The head of a police department is usually the chief, who is typically appointed by a government entity, such as mayor, city manager, or a commissioner.
The NCVS and UCR both offer important information on criminal victimization; however, the two programs were created to serve different purposes. The primary objective of the UCR is to provide a reliable set of criminal justice statistics for law enforcement administration, operation, and management. The NCVS was established to provide previously unavailable information about crime (including crime not reported to police), victims, and offenders. More information on the similarities and differences between the NCVS and UCR can be found in Nation's Two Crime Measures
A victimization is a single victim or household that experiences a criminal incident. Criminal incidents or crimes are distinguished from victimizations in that one criminal incident may have multiple victims or victimizations. For violent crimes (rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault) and for personal theft/larceny, the count of victimizations is the number of individuals who experienced a violent crime. For crimes against households (burglary, trespassing, other theft, and motor vehicle theft), each household affected by a crime is counted as a single victimization.
Terms & Definitions
An attack or attempted attack with a weapon, regardless of whether the victim is injured, or an attack without a weapon when serious injury results.
Annual household income
An unlawful physical attack or threat of attack. Assaults may be classified as aggravated or simple. Rape, attempted rape, and sexual assaults are excluded from this category, as well as robbery and attempted robbery. The severity of assaults ranges from minor threats to nearly fatal incidents.
Victimizations and incidents are classified based on detailed characteristics of the event provided by the respondent. Neither victims nor interviewers classify crimes at the time of interview. During data processing, a computer program classifies each event into one type of crime, based on the entries on a number of items on the survey questionnaire. This ensures that similar events will be classified using a standard procedure. The glossary definition for each crime indicates the major characteristics required to be so classified. If an event can be classified as more than one type of crime, a hierarchy is used that classifies the crime according to the most serious event that occurred. The hierarchy from highest to lowest is rape, sexual assault, robbery, assault, burglary/trespassing, motor vehicle theft, and theft.
Hate crime victimization
Place of occurrence of crime
Interested in Statistics?
Sign up for email notices of new crime and justice statistical materials as they become available from BJS.