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.
There are two national crime series which have data on crime rates and trends. The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) is based upon a sample of households and includes both crimes that are reported to police and those that are not reported. The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) is based upon local police reports which are compiled by the FBI. See (link) for a more detailed explanation of each data set. The two data series complement each other and both are “right” in terms of measuring what they are designed to measure. Please see the report, The Nation’s Two Crime Measures (NCJ 246832, BJS web), for more information.
Number of victimizations per 1,000 persons or households in a given population that occurred during the year.
Many surveys have a specific margin of error because all of the questions are asked of every person. For example if you ask an opinion question all of the respondents in the sample, everyone can give an opinion. The margin of error is different for different crimes and different findings in NCVS because questions are asked only of people who are victims of those crimes. There is a large margin of error around statistically rare crimes, such as rape/sexual assault. The margin of error is smaller around crimes which occur more frequently, such as property theft. Within a crime category such as violent crime, the margin of error around specific characteristics such as hospitalization may be larger than that for overall violent crime, since the estimates are based only on violent crime victims who experienced that characteristic.
Terms & Definitions
With injury - An attack without a weapon when serious injury results or an attack with a weapon involving any injury. Serious injury includes broken bones, lost teeth, internal injuries, loss of consciousness, and any unspecified injury requiring two or more days of hospitalization.
Threatened with a weapon - Threat or attempted attack by an offender armed with a gun, knife, or other object used as a weapon that does not result in victim injury.