Crime survey data may indicate future increases.

Violent crime increased per the FBI.

Homicides continue at record rates per the FBI and other data.

For a comprehensive view of crime in America, see


By Leonard A. Sipes, Jr.

Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Graduate-Johns Hopkins University.


The average person simply wants to know if crime went up or down, but the answer is confusing due to two measures used (victimization surveys and crimes reported to police) and reports throughout the United States that homicide and violent crime is increasing in some (not all) cities. A variety of data is presented here for your consideration.


There is good news from the US Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), violent crime rates remain flat while property crime rates decreased (report below). The National Crime Survey calls a representative sample of Americans and asks them if they were victimized the previous year.

However, raw numbers of violent crime decreased from 5,359,570 to 5,006,620. Serious stranger violence raw numbers decreased from 930,690 to 690,550.

But the news is tempered by the fact that violent and property crime decreased both in 2014 and 3013 per the National Crime Survey, thus violent crime rates being flat indicates the possibility of future increases. Something similar happened with a different measure, crimes reported to police per the FBI.

Crimes Reported to Police

This happened concurrently with crimes reported to law enforcement per FBI data (a different measure of criminality). Overall reported violent crime remained flat in 2014 (tiny decrease) compared to 2013. It led some (including this site) to suggest that violent crime was increasing based on different numbers for the first and second half’s of 2014.

After two years of decline, the estimated number of violent crimes in the nation increased 3.9 percent in 2015 when compared with 2014 data, according to FBI figures. Property crimes dropped 2.6 percent, marking the thirteenth straight year the collective estimates for these offenses declined.

Does Flat Crime Mean a Future Increase?

It’s possible that the same thing could be happening with the National Crime Survey regarding violent crime. “Flat” growth instead of decreases may foretell future increases. Flat growth in crime rates via the National Crime Survey also came after two years of declines.

Those contemplating crime in America must also consider the fact that murders are increasing at record rates and that reported violent crime increased in 2015.

In addition, there are endless media reports of increasing homicides and violent crime in many (not all) cities throughout the United States.

Difference Between the FBI and National Crime Survey Data

The National Crime Survey collects information from a nationally representative sample of U.S. households on nonfatal crimes reported and not reported to police. The National Crime Survey estimate of violence varies from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program because the UCR includes only crimes reported to police and the two programs measure an overlapping, but not identical, set of offenses and use different methodologies.

Many criminologists consider the National Crime Survey to be a measure of all crime (including those not reported to police), and the FBI data to be an index of serious crime (those reported to law enforcement).

There are an endless number of violent crimes that are not reported because the participants see the event as a private matter, or not serious enough to report to the police. For example, your brother or a friend could hit you with a beer bottle (a violent crime involving a weapon) but you have no intention of reporting it to law enforcement. But if you were contacted by the National Crime Survey, they will ask if you were the victim of an act of violence or if anyone used a weapon or object to attack you.

Forty-seven percent of violent crimes were reported to police, thus the majority of violent crime victims do not want police involvement, or do not see it as being in their best interest to report the incident, or are too afraid to report.

The National Crime Survey does not include homicides.

National Crime Survey-Recent History

Violent crime rates decreased from 2013 (23.2 victimizations per 1,000) to 20.1 per 1,000 in 2014.

1993 to 2014, the rate of violent crime declined from 79.8 to 20.1 per 1,000.

The overall property crime rate (which includes household burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft) decreased from 131.4 victimizations per 1,000 households in 2013 to 118.1 victimizations per 1,000 in 2014.

In 2013, the overall violent crime rate declined slightly from 26.1 to 23.2 victimizations per 1,000 U.S. residents from 2012 to 2013, per the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). The violent crime rate had declined for nearly two decades before increasing in 2011 and 2012.

The overall property crime rate, which includes burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft, also decreased after two consecutive years of increases.

From 2012 to 2013, the rate declined from 155.8 to 131.4 victimizations per 1,000 U.S. households.

In 2012, for the second consecutive year, violent and property crime rates increased. The overall violent crime rate (which includes rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated and simple assault) rose from 22.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons in 2011 to 26.1 in 2012

FBI 2015 Crime Statistics

After two years of decline, the estimated number of violent crimes in the nation increased 3.9 percent in 2015 when compared with 2014 data, according to FBI figures. Property crimes dropped 2.6 percent, marking the thirteenth straight year the collective estimates for these offenses declined.

In 2015, there were an estimated 1,197,704 violent crimes. Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter increased 10.8 percent when compared with estimates from 2014.

Murder: The Rise Continues: Various Reports

Last year’s dramatic rise in the national murder total appears to be continuing in 2016, but this year’s rise so far is slower than last year’s and is more concentrated in a few big cities, crime analyst Jeff Asher writes on

Murder totals rose across the U.S. last year at the fastest pace since 1990, according to data released by the FBI yesterday. There were an estimated 15,696 murders in 2015, 1,532 more than in 2014 and the most recorded in a calendar year since 2008, reports FiveThirtyEight

According to recent US Department of Justice funded data measuring murders in 56 cities, “…the homicide rise in 2015 in the nation’s large cities was real and, while not unprecedented, comparatively large. The average homicide increase over 2014 in the top ten was 33.3 percent, compared with a 16.8-percent rise for the sample as a whole.”

“One-year increases of this magnitude in the nation’s large cities, although not unknown, are very rare.”

The murder total in 29 large U.S. cities rose during the first six months of the year, says the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Wall Street Journal reports. Homicides jumped 15 percent in the 51 large cities that submitted crime data, compared with the same year-ago period. Wall Street Journal

Murder totals rose significantly in 25 of the nation’s 100 largest cities last year, says a New York Times analysis, New York Times

The national murder total may rise 13.1 percent this year, estimates the Brennan Center of Justice, based on a survey of 30 big cities. The Washington Post

Why Do Homicides Count?

Note that homicides are used by criminologists and criminal justice professionals as an indicator of overall violent crime, and crime in general. Generally speaking, crime rises and falls collectively. Based on historical FBI data, if homicides increase, it’s probable that violent crime (and all crime) will increase.

Violent crime increased for 2015, which was very predictable. There were media reports in multiple cities in 2015 that homicides and violent crime were increasing.

Those media reports of increases in many (not all) cities continue for 2016.

We predict that reported violent crime will continue to increase throughout 2016 based on FBI data.

New Report: Crime Victimization Survey Shows Rate of Overall Violent Crime Remained Flat for 2015

From 2014 to 2015, there was no statistically significant change in the overall rate of violent crime (rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault), per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

The rate of violent victimization was 18.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older in 2015, which was significantly lower than the rate in 1993 (79.8 per 1,000), the oldest year of data currently available from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).

From 2014 to 2015, the NCVS rate of overall property crime (household burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft) decreased from 118.1 victimizations per 1,000 households to 110.7 per 1,000. A decline in theft accounted for most of this decrease.

In 2015, an estimated 2.7 million people, or nearly one percent of all persons age 12 or older in the United States, experienced one or more violent victimizations. An estimated 10.0 million households, 7.6 percent of all households, experienced one or more property victimizations.

In 2015, 47 percent of violent victimizations and 55 percent of serious violent victimizations (rape or sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault) were reported to police. From 2014 to 2015, there were no statistically significant changes in the percentages of violent or serious violent victimizations reported to police. However, property victimizations reported to police declined from 37 to 35 percent. The percentage of household burglaries reported to police and motor vehicle thefts reported to police also declined from 2014 to 2015.

Other findings include—

  • From 2014 to 2015, no statistically significant changes were detected in the rates of serious violent crime or intimate partner violence (victimizations committed by current or former spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends).
  • In 2015, the percentage of violent crime victimizations in which assistance was received from a victim service agency was 9.1 percent, which was similar to the percentage in 2014.
  • The rate of violent victimization committed against males decreased from 21.1 victimizations per 1,000 in 2014 to 15.9 per 1,000 in 2015.
  • From 2014 to 2015, there were no statistically significant differences in the rates of violent or serious violent crime by victims’ race or Hispanic origin, marital status or household income.
  • In 2015, the rates of violent crime and property crime were higher in urban areas than in suburban and rural areas.

The report, Criminal Victimization, 2015 (NCJ 250180 can be found on the BJS website at

Crime in America at

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