Americans’ Reports of Crime Victimization is High

Twenty-nine percent of U.S. adults report that they or someone in their home was the victim of at least one type of physical crime in the past year. This is in line with the standard 27% over the past four years, but up from about 24% in the early 2000s.

More typically, Americans' experience with crime has been trending up since 2001 and is at an all-time high. Although not dramatically above the 27% recorded in 2015, it could indicate growth that warrants monitoring in the coming years. The most recent results are from Gallup's yearly crime poll, conducted from October 5–9.

The household victimization index reflects U.S. adults' responses to whether they or anyone in their family was the victim of one of seven crimes, including theft, vandalism, and violence. Those who say their household suffered a crime were then asked whether it happened to them directly or to another family member.

Overall, 16% of U.S. adults say they were personally the victim of at least one crime in the past year, similar to the 17% observed in 2015 and the 14–19% observed since 2001.

Stolen Property is the Most Common Physical Crime

The traditional crimes that make up Gallup's crime victimization metrics include four property offenses and three violent criminal acts, which Gallup has monitored yearly since 2000.

  • 17% of Americans claim that property or a loan was stolen from a family member in the past year
  • 14% report having their home, car, or other property ruined
  • 5% claim their home was broken into
  • 4% claim a family member’s car was stolen

Fewer Americans claim that a member of their family suffered any type of violent crime in the past year. Of the three types measured, the most common was mugging or physical assault (3%), followed by heist (2%) and sexual assault (1%).

The index does not include two types of cybercrime, which Gallup only started measuring recently: identity theft and stolen credit card information. More Americans report suffering these crimes compared to many physical crimes.

As Gallup reported last month, 27% of Americans claim that they or someone in their household had credit card information stolen by cybercriminals. This is similar to the level in 2014, but up from 22% in 2015. At the same time, 17% state that a household member was the target of identity theft, much like in 2015 (16%), but substantially more than the 8–12% observed from 2009 to 2013.

The Bottom Line

Americans' experience with crime is at a 16-year high, consistent with a steady increase—from 22% in 2001 to 29% today—in the percentage who say they or a family member suffered a robbery, vandalism, or violent crime in the past year.

In the same poll, Americans' understanding of the severity of crime nationally and locally hasn’t changed since 2015, but has increased a little since 2001. Consequently, while crime was not a top priority in the 2016 governmental project, the problem may now be ripe for policymakers in all branches of government to address.

Historic data available on Gallup Analytics.

Survey Conditions

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted through October 5–9, 2016, with a random sample of 1,017 adults (18 and older) living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of error is ±4 percentage points with a 95% confidence interval. All reported margins of error consist of calculated sample design and weighted results.

Each sample of nationwide adults consisted of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimal allocations by time zone within an area. Landline and cellular numbers were chosen using random digit dialing. gallup.com CWP

 

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