Types of Crime

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In 2002 the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Uniform Crime Report (UCR) estimated that one Crime Index offense was committed every 2.7 seconds in the United States. Property crimes were committed more frequently (one every 3.0 seconds) than violent crimes (one every 22.1 seconds), down from one every 19 seconds in 1996. The Crime Clock does not imply these crimes were committed with regularity; instead it represents the relative frequency of occurrence. Note this frequency of occurrence does not take into account population increases, as does the per capita crime rate.

The FBI, in its annual Crime in the United States report, publishes data for serious crimes in the Crime Index. The Index includes murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.

Although the number of crimes in the United States in 2002 remained high, at over 11.8 million, the total of Crime Index offenses remained relatively unchanged from 2001, rising only by 0.1 percent. Violent crimes comprised 12.0 percent of all Crime Index offenses in 2002, while property crimes accounted for 88.0 percent. According to five-year trend data, as shown in Figure 2.1, the Crime Index in 2002 was 4.9 percent lower than in 1998. The Crime Index rate, which equals the number of Crime Index offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, actually registered a 10.9 percent drop from the 1998 rate. (See Figure 2.1.)


The FBI defines murder and non-negligent manslaughter as "the willful (non-negligent) killing of one human being by another." The figures for murder do not include suicides, accidents, or justifiable homicides either by citizens or law enforcement officers. In 2002 a murder was committed every 32.4 minutes according to the UCR's Crime Clock. The murder rate was 5.6 murders for every 100,000 inhabitants. In 2002 murders were most likely to occur in July and September and least likely to occur in February.

Murder Rate Decline

The total of homicides in 2002 was 16,204, compared to 16,037 in 2001. (See Table 2.1.) Murder and non-negligent manslaughter declined by 4.5 percent from 1998 to 2002, and by 33.9 percent from 1993.

Population2Crime IndexModified Crime Index3Violent crime4Property crime4Murder and non-negligent manslaughterForcible rapeAggravated RobberyLarceny-assaultBurglaryMotor vehicle thefttheftArson3
Number of offenses
Population by year:
Percent change, number of offenses:
Rate per 100,000 inhabitants
Percent change, rate per 100,000 inhabitants:
1The murder and nonnegligent homicides that occurred as a result of the events of September 11, 2001, were not included in this table.
2Populations are Bureau of the Census provisional estimates as of July 1 for each year except 1990 and 2000 which are decennial census counts.
3Although arson data are included in the trend and clearance tables, sufficient data are not available to estimate totals for this offense.
4Violent crimes are offenses of murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Property crimes are offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft.
*Less than one-tenth of 1 percent.
source: "Table 1: Index of Crime, United States, 1983–2002," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003

Murder Rate by Area

The South, the nation's most populous region, had the highest incidence of murder in 2002, accounting for 43.1 percent of all homicides in the United States. Western states were next, at 23.0 percent, followed by the Midwest at 20.4 percent, and the Northeast at 13.6 percent. (See Table 2.2.) These proportions are nearly identical to 1998 figures, when 44 percent of murders in the nation

AreaPopulationCrime IndexModified Crime Index1Violent crime2Property crime2Murder and non-negligent man-slaughterForcible rapeRobberyAggravated assaultBurglaryLarceny-theftMotor vehicle theftArson1
United States total3100.0100.0100.0100.0100.0100.0100.0100.0100.0100.0100.0
1Although arson data are included in the trend and clearance tables, sufficient data are not available to estimate totals for this offense.
2Violent crimes are offenses of murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Property crimes are offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft.
3Because of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0.
source: "Table 3: Index of Crime, Offense and Population Distribution by Region, 2002," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003
Percent distribution1100.
Under 182848770771389424269
Under 2223,4023,12826951,4991,7709439
18 and over29,5258,511996184,7144,464241106
Infant (under 1)00000000
1 to 410100100
5 to 811000100
9 to 1226187171801
13 to 16446401450227198156
17 to 191,5071,4129236488024215
20 to 242,9162,65625641,2651,5477331
25 to 291,6441,49215027698193719
30 to 341,12098613225735062714
35 to 398657491160460385137
40 to 446385221151367242218
45 to 49493425680298172203
50 to 5431126244519510376
55 to 591681501801174164
60 to 648372110592220
65 to 6949418038920
70 to 74453861321201
75 and over605640481020
1Because of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0.
2Does not include unknown ages.
source: "Table 2.6: Murder Offenders, by Age, Sex, and Race," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003

occurred in the South, 22 percent occurred in Western states, 21 percent occurred in Midwestern states and 13 percent were in Northeastern states.

As seen in Table 1.2 in Chapter 1, metropolitan areas reported a murder rate in 2002 of 6.2 victims per 100,000 population, down from 6.7 victims per 100,000 persons in 1998. (As defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, a "metropolitan statistical area," or MSA, is an urbanized area including a central city of 50,000 residents or more, or a Census Bureau-defined urbanized area of at least 50,000 inhabitants and a total metropolitan population of 75,000 in New England and at least 100,000 elsewhere.) Rates for murder in 2002 in cities outside metropolitan areas were 3.2 victims per 100,000 population and in rural counties, 3.6 victims per 100,000 population.

Sex, Race, and Age

In 2002 about two-thirds of the accused murder offenders were reported to be male (65.0 percent), though in 28.0 percent of cases, the sex of the offender was not given. Of 15,813 murder offenders, 3,128 males and 269 females were under the age of 22, while 770 males and 77 females were under the age of 18. Of murder offenders in 2002 for whom race was known, 35.3 percent were black, 33.9 percent were white, and 1.7 percent were of other racial origins. The remainder were persons of unknown races. (See Table 2.3.)

The offender and the victim were usually of the same race. Of 3,582 white murder victims, 3,000 were killed by white offenders in 2002. Similarly, of 3,137 black victims of homicide, almost all (2,852) were killed by black offenders. (See Table 2.4.) Males and females were the victims of male offenders in most cases, though female murder offenders were more likely to kill males than females in 2002.

Murder Circumstances

In 2002 relatives, acquaintances, or others with personal relationships to the victims committed 75.6 percent of all murders in which the relationship of the victim to the offender was known. (Almost 43 percent of the relationships were unknown.) Of 14,054 murders in 2002, 601 wives were the victims of their husbands and 444 girlfriends were the victims of their boyfriends. Sons (239) were more likely to be murdered than were daughters (210). (See Table 2.5.) Arguments resulted in 3,730 murders in 2002, down from 4,356 in 1998. Robbery was the felony offense most likely to result in murder in 2002, as it has been since 1998. Juvenile gang killing accounted for 911 murders in 2002, up from 625 in 1998. (See Table 2.6.)

Nearly sixty-seven percent of all murders were committed with firearms in 2002. (See below for more information on firearms and crime.) Knives were used in 12.6 percent of murders; blunt instruments in 4.7 percent; personal

Race of offenderSex of offender
Race of victimTotalWhiteBlackOtherUnknownMaleFemaleUnknown
White victims3,5823,00048358413,16937241
Black victims3,1372272,85211472,76832049
Other race victims19251281094169194
Unknown race943123238451138
Race of offenderSex of offender
Sex of victimTotalWhiteBlackOtherUnknownMaleFemaleUnknown
Male victims4,9312,1922,545121734,32852875
Female victims1,9801,08681857191,77818319
Unknown sex943123238451138
source: "Table 2.8: Murder Victim/Offender Relationship, by Race and Sex, 2002," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003

weapons (fists, feet, and the like) in 6.6 percent; and other weapons, such as poisons and explosives, in the remaining 9.3 percent. (See Table 2.7.)

Of the 9,369 murder victims killed by firearms in 2002, 661 were under the age of 18 (7 percent) and 2,358 were under 22 years of age (25 percent). Almost 50 percent of murder victims under the age of 18 and over two-thirds of those under age 22 were killed by firearms.

Between 1982 and 2001 there were 327 sniper-attack murder incidents with 379 murder victims, according to the FBI. (See Table 2.8.) In 2001 there were five sniper-attack incidents resulting in five murders, down from eight incidents in 2000 with eight victims, and much lower than the 20-year high of 47 incidents in 1988 with 55 deaths. Of the 224 offenders arrested during this period, 217 were male and seven female. Forty percent of offenders were aged 21 or under. (See Table 2.9.)


Because murder is considered the most serious crime, it receives the most police attention and, therefore, has the highest arrest rate of all felonies. According to the 2002 UCR on murder, about 64.0 percent of murders in 2002 were cleared by arrest. The rate was somewhat lower in cities, with 62 percent of murders and non-negligent manslaughter offenses cleared by arrest in 2002. Because an arrest is made does not mean that the alleged offender is guilty or will be convicted in criminal or juvenile court.


The FBI defines forcible rape as "the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. Assaults or attempts to commit rape by force or threat of force are included; however, statutory rape (without force) [inter-course with a consenting minor]…and other sex offenses are excluded." Rape is a crime of violence in which the victim may suffer serious physical injury and long-term psychological pain. In 2002 95,136 forcible rapes were reported to law enforcement agencies, an increase of 4.7 percent from 2001. (See Table 2.1.) Forcible rape totals show a decrease of 10.3 percent since 1993. The rate of forcible rape in 2002 was 33.0 per 100,000 females. This represents a decline of 4.3 percent from 1998, and a 19.8 percent decline from 1993 figures, but a 3.6 percent increase over 2001 figures.

For several reasons, the statistics on rape are difficult to interpret. The crime often goes unreported. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) estimates that only about one-third of the cases of completed or attempted rape are ever reported to the police. Because their data are collected through interviews, the BJS recognizes an underreporting in its statistics as well. Homosexual rape and "date rape" (sex forced upon a woman by her escort) are not included in BJS data.

Public attitudes and legal definitions of rape are changing to encompass an ever-widening range of sexual events. These actions can include varying degrees of violence, submissiveness, and injury, but all involve women having sex against their will. (By the UCR definition, the victims of forcible rape are always female. The number of reported cases of rapes of males is so small that no statistics are available.) A majority of cases involve acquaintance rape. By the late 1990s most states also recognized marital rape, for which a husband could be charged with raping his wife. David Beatty, public policy director of the National Center for Victims of Crime, commented that acquaintance rape is far more common than stranger rape. Most experts conclude that in 80 to 85 percent of all rape cases, the victim knows the defendant.

From 1979 through 1992 the rape rate increased 23 percent. Most experts attributed at least part of the

CircumstancesTotal murder victimsHusbandWifeMotherFatherSonDaughterBrotherSisterOther familyAcquaintanceFriendBoyfriendGirlfriendNeighborEmployeeEmployerStrangerUnknown
Felony type total:2,31441743894132586508181601595958
Motor vehicle theft16001000000110000076
Prostitution and commercialized vice8000000000300000023
Other sex offenses8000011000300200001
Narcotic drug laws657010100101245222200067315
Other—not specified3154142065101068111930051130
Suspected felony type670010000006100000257
Other than felony type total:7,097109516938819918469172022,17925713434877479991,615
Romantic triangle13019001010957102141001510
Child killed by babysitter380000120072330000011
Brawl due to influence of alcohol1531603020056810140004112
Brawl due to influence of narcotics8402010020336303100825
Argument over money or property20304510000710413038011740
Other arguments3,527813344547522951111111,1541701052434843496543
Gangland killings73000000000230000002030
Juvenile gang killings911000000001221000000200489
Institutional killings12000000000900000012
Sniper attack11010000000000000073
Other—not specified1,955261604336145151156594844826811903193460
*Relationship is that of victim to offender.
source: "Table 2.12: Murder Circumstances, by Relationship, 2002," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003

increase in reported rape cases to a more sympathetic attitude by law enforcement authorities and a greater awareness of women's rights. After peaking in 1992, the rate steadily declined until 2002, when the rate began to climb again. (See Table 2.1.)

When and Where

In keeping with a five-year trend, rapes in 2002 occurred most frequently during the summer months of July and August. (See Table 2.10.) The rate of rape in metropolitan statistical areas in 2002 was 66.5 per 100,000 females. The rate of rape was highest in cities outside of metropolitan areas, and lower in rural counties. (See Table 1.2 in Chapter 1.) Regionally, the highest total volume of rapes (37.5 percent of all rapes) occurred in the South (the most populated region in the United States) while 13.5 percent of all forcible rapes in 2002 occurred in the Northeast. (See Table 2.2.)


Less than half (44.5 percent) of reported forcible rapes were cleared by arrest in 2002. Of persons arrested for forcible rape, 46.1 percent were under the age of 25 and 63.4 percent were white. Juveniles (under 18) amounted to 16.7 percent of all those arrested for forcible rape in 2002.


The FBI defines robbery as "the taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear." Robbery is a particularly threatening crime; its thousands of victims each year suffer psychological and physical trauma, and even non-victims experience anxiety from the fear of robbery. This fear can cause people to change their lives in ways destructive to social life and the sense of community, especially in urban areas.

Robbery is the only one of the seven traditional FBI Index crimes that is both a property crime and a violent crime. It shares with other crimes of property the primary motivation of acquiring money and the likelihood that the perpetrators do not know their victims. Robbery shares with other types of violent crime a relatively high probability of victim injury or death.

An estimated 420,637 robberies were reported during 2002, less than one percent fewer than in 2001. (See Table 2.1.) The number of robberies declined by 5.9 percent compared to the 1998 figures, and by 36.3 percent compared to 1993. Robbery represented 29.5 percent of the nation's violent crime in 2002.

In 2001 a bank robbery occurred on average every 52 minutes. According to Bank Crime Statistics (BCS) collected

Felony type total:2,5102,2152,2292,3642,314
Motor vehicle theft1512252216
Prostitution and commercialized vice158658
Other sex offenses20191078
Narcotic drug laws682581589575657
Other—not specified269313272443315
Suspected felony type10465607267
Other than felony type total:7,2036,8806,8717,0737,097
Romantic triangle187137122118130
Child killed by babysitter2334303738
Brawl due to influence of alcohol211203188152153
Brawl due to influence of narcotics1171279911884
Argument over money or property241213206198203
Other arguments4,1153,4713,5893,6183,527
Gangland killings73122657673
Juvenile gang killings625580653862911
Institutional killings151310812
Sniper attack1658711
Other—not specified1,5801,9751,9011,8791,955
* The murder and nonnegligent homicides that occurred as a result of the events of September 11, 2001, are not included.
source: "Table 2.14: Murder Circumstances, 1998–2002," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003

by the Violent Crimes/Fugitive Unit of the FBI, there were 8,516 bank robberies in 2001, up from 7,310 in 2000. These figures vary from those collected by the UCS, which reported 10,150 bank robberies in 2001 and 8,565 in 2000. Between 1990 and 2001 the number of bank robberies, using BCS data, has fluctuated from a high of 9,540 in 1992 to a low of 6,813 in 1999. (See Figure 2.2.) Most bank robbers between 1996 and 2000 were male (2,962 compared to 204 females) and most (831) were between 18 and 24 years old. (See Table 2.11.) Almost 58 percent of bank robberies were cleared by arrest in 2001.


The robbery rate in 2002 was 145.9 per 100,000 inhabitants, a 1.7 percent decrease from 2001. The rate represents a decrease of 11.8 percent compared to 1998, and of 43.0 percent compared to 1993. (See Table 2.1.)

Robbery is largely a big-city crime. Of 420,637 total robberies reported by law enforcement agencies nationwide in 2002, some 401,140 occurred in metropolitan areas—a rate of 173.4 per 100,000 people. By comparison, the rate of robberies in cities outside metropolitan

AgeTotal murder victimsFirearmsKnives or cutting instrumentsBlunt (clubs, hammers, objects etc.)Personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.)1PoisonExplosivesFireNarcoticsStrangulationAsphyxiationOther weapon or weapon not stated2
Percent distribution3100.066.712.
Under 1841,35766190522995521111641156
Under 2243,3982,358256943456529142347221
18 and over412,4068,5681,646595607186763612558671
Infant (under 1)180941291010301941
1 to 4328451019166217321261
5 to 886261421122712712
9 to 129256112410203013
13 to 1639029930111700536217
17 to 191,184972101233211346338
20 to 242,7562,2442505572039775104
25 to 292,0591,62822742560011216770
30 to 341,5871,16819745570214515480
35 to 391,33786419374782075251178
40 to 441,1376632216384319113871
45 to 498564611518074008115363
50 to 54566312101485020323144
55 to 5935317266462300107236
60 to 6424510741371600717425
65 to 691626727201510035519
70 to 741565335281400006218
75 and over2898357404690463437
1Pushed is included in personal weapons.
2Includes drowning.
3Because of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0.
4Does not include unknown ages.
source: "Table 2.11: Murder Victims by Age, by Weapon, 2002," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003

areas was 61.2 per 100,000 people, and the rate was 16.7 in rural counties. (See Table 1.2 in Chapter 1.)

Average Losses

The UCR for 2002 estimates that over $539 million was stolen from robbery victims in 2002. The average value of items stolen during a robbery was estimated at $1,281 per incident. Average dollar losses in 2002 ranged from $4,763 for a bank robbery to $665 for a convenience-store robbery. Nearly half (42.8 percent) of robberies occurred on the streets or highways. Robberies of commercial establishments accounted for an additional 14.6 percent and those occurring at residences, 13.5 percent. (See Table 1.8 in Chapter 1.)

The impact of robbery on its victims cannot be measured simply in terms of monetary loss. While the intention of a robber is to obtain money or property, the crime always involves the use or threat of force. Many victims suffer serious psychological and/or physical injury, sometimes even death. Firearms accounted for 42.1 percent of the weapons used in robberies in 2002. Strong-arm tactics (actual or threatened physical force) were used in 39.9 percent and knives or cutting instruments in 8.7 percent. (See Table 2.12.)


In 2002 law authorities cleared about one-fourth (25.7 percent) of reported robbery offenses nationwide. Rural counties reported the highest clearance rate in 2002, at 41.4 percent, compared to 29.5 percent in suburban counties and 25.0 percent in cities. Of those arrested, 61.4 percent were under 25 years of age. (See Table 1.4 in Chapter 1.) Males comprised 89.7 percent of those arrested for robbery in 2002. Blacks accounted for 54.1 percent of arrestees for robbery, compared to 44.1 percent who were white. Of those cleared by arrest for robbery in 2002, 23.1 percent were juveniles under the age of 18. (See Table 1.7 in Chapter 1.)


The FBI defines aggravated assault as "an unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. This type of assault is usually accompanied by the use of a weapon or by means likely to produce death or great bodily harm." In 2002 894,348 offenses of aggravated assault were reported to law enforcement agencies nationwide. The aggravated assault rate of 310.1 per 100,000 inhabitants declined by 2.7 percent from 2001. By comparison, the rate of aggravated assault has declined by 14.2 percent since 1998, and by 29.6 percent since 1993. (See Table 2.1.)

In 2002 metropolitan areas reported a rate of aggravated assault of 332.3 per 100,000 people, compared to 300.1 per 100,000 in cities outside metropolitan areas,

YearNumber of incidentsNumber of victimsOffenders*
*This represents the number of instances in which the age, sex, and/or race of the offender was reported by law enforcement.
source: "Table 5.13: Sniper-Attack Murder Incidents, Victims and Offenders, 1982–2002," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003

and 168.5 per 100,000 in rural counties. (See Table 1.2 in Chapter 1.) Aggravated assault was more likely to occur in the South (43.1 percent of the cases) followed by the West (23.7 percent), the Midwest (18.7 percent), and the Northeast (14.6 percent). The highest rate of aggravated assault was in July while the lowest rates were in November through February.

Weapons Used

About one-third (35.4 percent) of all aggravated assaults in 2002 were committed with weapons such as clubs or other blunt objects. Personal weapons—hands, fists, and feet—were used in 27.7 percent of the offenses, firearms in 19.0 percent, and knives or cutting instruments in 17.8 percent. By region, 21 percent of assaults were committed with firearms in Southern states, 18.0 percent in both the Midwestern and Western states, and 14.1 percent in Northeastern states. (See Table 2.13.)


Law enforcement agencies cleared an average of 56.5 percent of the reported cases of aggravated assault in 2002. Three of every four violent crime arrests (75.8 percent) were for aggravated assault. Table 1.5 in Chapter 1 shows that offenders under the age of 18 made up 12.7 percent of all those arrested for aggravated assault. Males (79.8 percent of all offenders) were far more likely to be arrested

AgeTotalMaleFemaleUnknownWhiteBlackAmerican Indian/Alaskan NativeAsian/Pacific IslanderUnknown
Under 10000000000
10 to 12110010000
25 to 293635101917000
30 to 34171610134000
35 to 3911110074000
40 to 44660060000
45 to 49660051000
50 to 54550032000
55 to 59110010000
60 to 64220011000
65 and over330021000
source: "Table 5.19: Sniper-Attack Murder Offenders, by Age, Sex, and Race, 1982–2001," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003

than females. Among those arrested for aggravated assault, 63.4 percent were white and 34.2 percent were black.


The FBI defines burglary as "the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft. The use of force to gain entry is not required to classify an offense as burglary." An estimated 2.15 million burglaries were reported in 2002, up 1.7 percent from 2001. By comparison, 2002 burglaries declined by 7.8 percent compared to the 1998 figures, and by 24.1 percent compared to the 1993 figures. (See Figure 2.3 and Table 2.1.)

In 2002 the burglary rate was 746.2 per 100,000 persons, a 0.6 percent increase from 2001. Burglary rates declined by 13.5 percent compared to the 1998 rate, and by 32.1 percent compared to the 1993 rate. (See Table 2.1.) The burglary rate in 2002 was highest in cities outside metropolitan areas (805.4 per 100,000 inhabitants), followed by metropolitan areas (768.5 per 100,000). Rural counties reported the lowest rate, at 558.2 per 100,000 population. (See Table 1.2 in Chapter 1.) The highest burglary volume was in the most populous region, the South, with 44.8 percent of total burglaries. Total burglary volume was lower in the West (22.9 percent of all burglaries) and Midwest (20.7 percent), and lowest in the Northeast (11.5 percent). (See Table 2.2.) The highest burglary rates in 2002 occurred in July, while the lowest occurred in February.


Of the 2.15 million burglaries reported in 2002, 65.8 percent were residential and 34.2 percent involved non-residences such as stores and offices. Most residential burglaries occurred during daylight hours (61.7 percent) and nonresidential burglaries occurred at night (57.7 percent). The average value lost in burglaries was $1,549 per incident. Non-residential losses from burglary averaged $1,678, compared to $1,482 for residential burglaries. (See Table 1.8 in Chapter 1.)

These dollar amounts indicate the value of goods lost to the property owner. The burglar may collect as little as 10 cents on the dollar from the fence, the person who buys the stolen goods. A television set worth $400 might net the burglar only about $40. These statistics indicate that most burglars are commonly risking arrest for about $100 to $200.


Law officers cleared 13.0 percent of burglaries reported to law enforcement in 2002 through arrest. In 2002 juveniles under 18 accounted for 30.4 percent of all burglary arrests and were involved in 17.3 percent of burglary offenses cleared by law enforcement agencies. The percentage of juveniles arrested for burglary is higher than the clearance rate because more than one individual may be arrested in connection with a single offense.

source: "Table 2.18: Forcible Rape by Month, Percent Distribution, 1998–2002," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003

Whites accounted for 70.4 percent of all persons arrested for burglary, and blacks comprised 27.5 of all such arrestees. About 86.7 percent of those arrested for burglary in 2002 were males. Arrests of juveniles for burglary in 2002 declined by 26.1 percent since 1998 and by 39.2 percent since 1993. Arrests of adults for burglary in 2002 declined by 4.2 percent since 1998 and by 24.4 percent since 1993.


The FBI defines larceny-theft as "the unlawful taking, carrying, leading, or riding away of property from the possession … of another" in which no use of force or fraud occurs. This crime category includes offenses such as shoplifting, pocket-picking, purse-snatching, thefts from motor vehicles, bicycle thefts, and so on. It does not include embezzlement, "con" games, forgery, and passing bad checks. (See Figure 2.4.)

In 2002 law enforcement agencies reported seven million larceny-theft offenses for a rate of 2,445.8 per 100,000 people. This crime category amounted to 51.9 percent of the Crime Index total arrests and 71.9 percent of all property crime arrests. The rate of larceny-theft declined by 1.6 percent from 2001, by 10.4 percent compared to 1998, and by 19.4 percent from 1993. (See Table 2.1.)

The larceny-theft rate in 2002 was 3,107.9 per 100,000 inhabitants in cities outside metropolitan areas, and 2,596.4 per 100,000 in metropolitan areas. Rural counties reported an average rate for larceny-theft of 1005.0 per 100,000 residents. The South, the most populous area of the nation, accounted for 40.9 percent of the total number of larceny-theft offenses, with the West (23.6 percent), Midwest (22.3 percent), and Northeast (13.2 percent) making up the rest. (See Table 2.2.) Larceny-theft occurred most frequently in July and August and least often in February.


The average value of property stolen (excluding motor vehicles) in 2002 was $699, and the estimated total amount stolen was $4.9 billion. The estimated loss is considered conservative because many larceny-thefts of small amounts are never reported to authorities. The average amount taken differed depending on the specific crime. For example, the average value for pickpocket offenses was $328; the average purse-snatching, $332. Shoplifting resulted in an average loss of $187. (See Table 1.8 in Chapter 1.)

Miscellaneous thefts from buildings and thefts from motor vehicles (except accessories) averaged $1,013 and $692, respectively. The average loss for bicycle theft was $257 per incident and from coin-operated machines, $250. The largest proportion of larceny was thefts from motor vehicles (except accessories), which accounted for 26.5 percent of larceny-thefts in 2002, while thefts from buildings and shoplifting accounted for 12.5 percent and 14.0 percent, respectively. Bicycle theft accounted for 3.9 percent.


About 18.0 percent of larceny-thefts reported in 2002 were cleared. Of those arrested for larceny-theft, 29.5 percent were under 18 years of age.

Females were arrested more often for larceny-theft than for any other offense in 2002, and comprised 37.0

Race of offender
Sex/Age of offenderAsian/Pacific IslanderBlackAmerican Indian/Alaskan Nativeunknown raceWhiteTotal
Total unknown age, sex, and race508
over 64112
unknown age52916
Total female792123204
over 645914
unknown age126265139467
Total male71,59621051,2522,962
Unknown sex
over 6411
unknown age1634167
Total unknown sex31866195
source: "Table 5.11: Age, Race, and Sex of Offender, NIBRS Data, 1996–2000," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003

percent of all arrestees for larceny-theft. About two-thirds (67.9 percent) of those arrested for larceny theft in 2002 were white, compared to 29.3 percent who were black.


The FBI defines motor vehicle theft as "the theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle." In 2002 just over 1.2 million cases of auto theft were reported in the United States. The number of motor vehicle thefts increased from the previous year, up by 1.4 percent from 2001. The rate of motor vehicle thefts was 432.1 per 100,000 inhabitants, up by 0.4 percent from 2001. The 2002 rate shows a decline of 6.0 percent from 1998, and 28.7 percent from 1993. (See Table 2.1.)

The highest rate of motor vehicle theft occurred in metropolitan areas (498.6 per 100,000 inhabitants). In cities outside metropolitan areas, the motor vehicle theft rate was 207.6 per 100,000 inhabitants, while rural counties had a rate of 132.8. (See Table 1.2 in Chapter 1.)


The total value of motor vehicles stolen in 2002 was approximately $8.4 billion. The average loss per vehicle was $6,701. Many stolen cars are recovered, and insurance covers a portion of the loss for most victims. Motor vehicle thefts in 2002 occurred most often in July, and were least likely to occur in February. (See Table 2.14.)

Types of Vehicles Stolen

Nearly three-quarters of all motor vehicles reported stolen in 2002 were automobiles. The Highway Loss Data Institute lists the make and series of cars for which the most theft claims are made. In mid-2002, the most frequent passenger vehicle theft claims among 1999–2001

RegionTotal all weapons*FirearmsKnives or cutting instrumentsOther weaponsStrongarm
*Because of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0.
source: "Table 2.22: Robbery, Types of Weapons Used, by Region, Percent Distribution, 2002," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003

models were the Acura Integra, followed by the Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Cherokee 4WD, Honda Prelude, and Mitsubishi Mirage. Of passenger vehicles with the worst theft losses among 1999–2001 models, the Acura Integra ranked highest, followed by the BMW X5 4WD, Chevrolet Corvette, and the Lincoln Navigator 4WD.


In 2002 law enforcement agencies reported that 13.8 percent of motor vehicle thefts were cleared by arrest. In many cases, the stolen vehicle was found abandoned, and no arrest was made. Young males most often committed motor vehicle theft. Males were 83.5 percent of those arrested. Some 63.8 percent of persons arrested for motor vehicle theft in 2002 were under 25 years of age, and 30.4 percent were under 18. Whites comprised 60.4 percent of those arrested and African-Americans comprised 36.5 percent.


The FBI defines arson as "any willful or malicious burning or attempt to burn, with or without intent to defraud, a dwelling house, public building, motor vehicle or aircraft, personal property of another, etc." Arson statistics have only been collected since 1979. Not included in the arson statistics are fires of suspicious or unknown origins. In 2002 66,308 arson offenses were reported by law enforcement agencies nationwide. However, because not all agencies reported arson statistics, the data for arson collected by the FBI for 2002 represents approximately 72.7 percent of the population.


The FBI reported that the rate of arson in the United States in 2002 was 32.4 offenses per 100,000 people nationwide. In cities with a population from 250,000 to 499,999, the arson rate was highest, at 68.3 per 100,000 inhabitants, while cities with 10,000 to 24,999 inhabitants

RegionTotal all weapons*FirearmsKnives or cutting instrumentsOther weapons (clubs, blunt objects, etc.)Personal weapons
*Because of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0.
source: "Table 2.24: Aggravated Assault, Types of Weapons Used, by Region, Percent Distribution, 2002," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003
source: "Table 2.29: Motor Vehicle Theft by Month, Percent Distribution, 1998–2002," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003

had the lowest rate (20.0). Overall, cities reported an arson rate of 36.5 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2002. By comparison, suburban counties reported an arson rate of 27.0, while rural counties reported 16.6 arsons per 100,000 people.

What Is Being Burned?

In 2002 structural arson accounted for 41.3 percent of all arson offenses, or 27,373 reported incidents. Residential property accounted for 60.7 percent of all structural arsons. Mobile property comprised about one-third (33.1 percent) of all reported incidents of arson in 2002, with motor vehicles accounting for about 95 percent of all mobile property arsons. Just over one-quarter of incidents of arson were directed at property such as crops, fences, signs, timber, etc. (See Table 2.15.)

The average loss per incident in 2002 was $11,253. The overall average for all types of structures was $20,818. The average dollar loss for mobile property arsons was $6,073, and other property type losses averaged $2,536.


About 16.9 percent of all reported arsons were cleared by arrest in 2002. The highest clearance rate for structural arsons and mobile property arsons was in cities with less than 10,000 inhabitants, 29.0 percent and 18.1 percent, respectively. For arsons of other property types, cities with 10,000 to 24,999 inhabitants had the highest arrest clearance rate, 25.9 percent. Cities overall had a clearance rate of 15.9 percent, while rural counties reported a 23.0 percent clearance by arrest. In 2002 juveniles under the age of 18 accounted for 43.0 percent of all arson incidents cleared by arrest. Juveniles comprised 71.8 percent of arsons of community/public structures cleared by arrest, and 21.9 percent of motor vehicle arsons cleared by arrest. Nearly half (49.4 percent) of those arrested for arson in 2002 were juveniles under the age of 18, and 67.8 percent were under the age of 25. Most persons arrested for arson in 2002 were male (84.8 percent), and 76.8 percent were white.


There are enough guns in private hands to provide every adult in America with one.

—Bulletin Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation, September 2, 1997

Based on a survey funded by a National Institute of Justice (NIJ) grant, the Police Foundation estimated that private citizens owned 192 million firearms in the United States in 1994. During the year, about 211,000 handguns and 382,000 long guns (rifles and shotguns) were stolen from the nation's homes or vehicles. Not surprisingly many stolen guns wound up in the hands of criminals.

In 2002, of the 14,054 weapons used to commit murder, 9,369 were firearms. Of those firearms, 7,176 were handguns. Among those murders in which firearms were used, 76.6 percent were handguns, 5.1 percent were rifles, 5.1 percent were shotguns, and 13.2 percent were other types of firearms or unknown. (See Table 2.16.)

Weapons Offenses and Offenders

Weapons offenses are violations of statutes or regulations that seek to control deadly weapons. Deadly weapons include firearms and their ammunition, silencers, explosives, and certain knives. From 1992 to 2002 the number of arrests for weapons offenses dropped from 129,122 to 118,148, a decline of 8.5 percent. Those under 18 years of age accounted for 25,239 of the 2002 arrests. In 2002 just over 1 percent of arrests nationwide were for weapons offenses. Of those persons arrested, 70.7 percent were white and 26.9 percent were black.

Property classificationNumber of offensesPercent distribution1Percent not in useAverage damageTotal clearancesPercent of offenses cleared2Percent of clearances under 18
Total structure:27,37341.318.220,8186,13922.440.3
Single occupancy residential11,78917.819.718,5352,63122.331.2
Other residential4,8217.314.821,8461,07122.230.7
Other commercial2,7354.115.445,92748517.727.6
Other structure2,6153.924.311,93346317.747.1
Total mobile:21,92033.16,0731,5847.223.6
Motor vehicles20,73631.35,7811,4236.921.9
Other mobile1,1841.811,18316113.639.1
1Because of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0.
2Includes offenses cleared by arrest or exceptional means.
source: "Table 2.32: Arson, by Type of Property, 2002," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003

Crimes Committed with Firearms

From 1974 to 1993 the number of violent offenses (murders, robberies, and aggravated assaults) committed with firearms increased 78 percent. But from 1993 to 2001 the total number of violent crimes committed with firearms decreased by 63 percent.

According to Firearm Use by Offenders (Caroline Wolf Harlow, Ph.D., Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, November 2001), some 18 percent of state prisoners and 15 percent of federal prisoners in 1997 reported that they carried a firearm at the time of their offenses. Of those, 9 percent of state prisoners and 2 percent of federal prisoners in 1997 said that they fired a gun during the commission of the offense for which they were incarcerated. Most reported carrying a handgun (83 percent of state prisoners and 87 percent of federal prisoners).

Among prisoners in 1997 who reported carrying a firearm during the commission of a crime, some 23 percent of state inmates and 5 percent of federal inmates either killed or injured their victim as the result of discharging the firearm. Nonetheless, between 1993 and 1997, gunshot wounds from any type of crime declined by some 40 percent according to Firearm Injury and Death from Crime, 199397, by Marianne W. Zawitz and Kevin J. Strom (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000). During the same period, firearm-related homicides fell by 27 percent, from 18,300 in 1993 to 13,300 in 1997.

Crimes committed with firearms usually carry a higher penalty. About 40 percent of all state prisoners and 56 percent of all federal prisoners who used firearms were given more severe sentences. On average, state inmates who used a firearm received 18 years in prison, while those who committed similar crimes without firearms received 12 years.

Total firearms:9,2208,4808,6618,8909,369
Other guns1692535974
Firearms, type not stated6277999341,0031,163
Knives or cutting instruments1,8901,7121,7821,8311,767
Blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.)750756617680666
Personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.)2959885927961933
Other weapons or weapons not stated8696847991,245869
1The murder and nonnegligent homicides that occurred as a result of the events of September 11, 2001, are not included.
2Pushed is included in personal weapons.
source: "Table 2.10: Murder Victims, by Weapon, 1998–2002," in "Crime Index Offenses, Percent Distribution, 2002," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003

Firearm-Related Deaths

From 1991 to 1999 the percentage of firearm-related homicides declined from 47 percent of all firearm-related deaths to 38 percent, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The reduction in the overall number of firearm-related homicides was even more dramatic, from 17,986 in 1991 to 10,828 in 1999. Though the FBI estimated that

YearTotalTotal firearmsHandgunsRiflesShotgunsFirearms, type not statedKnives or cutting instrumentsOther dangerous weaponsPersonal weapons
1The killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen.
source: "Table 2.17: Justifiable Homicide by Weapon, 1998–2002: Private Citizen," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003
YearTotalTotal firearmsHandgunsRiflesShotgunsFirearms, type not statedKnives or cutting instrumentsOther dangerous weaponsPersonal weapons
*The killing of a felon by a law enforcement officer in the line of duty.
source: "Table 2.16: Justifiable Homicide by Weapon, 1998–2002: Law Enforcement," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003

66 percent of the 15,517 murders in 2000 were committed with firearms, this still shows a decline, with about 10,241 homicides attributed to firearms. The National Center for Health Statistics estimated that of the other deaths caused by firearms in 1999, 57 percent were suicides, 3 percent were unintentional, and the intent in the remaining 1 percent of deaths was undetermined. The proportion of firearm-related deaths ruled to be suicides showed an increase between 1991 and 1999, rising from 48 percent to 57 percent. Although the rate of firearm-related suicides rose during that period, the overall number of such suicides declined from 18,526 in 1991 to 16,599 in 1999.

Among persons 19 years of age and younger, 59 percent (1,990) of the 3,385 firearm-related deaths in 1999 were homicides and 32 percent (1,078) were suicides. The remaining deaths were either unintentional or undetermined. Among adults 20 years of age or older, 35 percent of the 25,469 firearm-related deaths in 1999 were homicides and 61 percent were suicides.

Sources for Firearms Used in Crimes

Among prisoners in 1997 who reported carrying a firearm during their crimes, 14 percent said they bought or traded the gun from a legitimate retail outlet (store, pawn shop, flea market or gun show), a decline from the 21 percent of inmates in 1991 who reported purchasing a firearm from legitimate sources. Part of this decline may be attributed to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act's requirement for criminal history checks for firearm purchases. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, since the law's enactment in 1994, some 689,000 of the nearly 30 million applicants for gun purchases were rejected by the FBI. Of the 7.8 million applicants for firearm permits or transfers in 2000, some 153,000 were rejected. State agencies rejected 2.5 percent of the 3.5 million criminal background checks conducted in 2000, while the FBI rejected 1.6 percent of 4.3 million checks they conducted. Friends, family, street buys, theft, and other illegal means of acquiring a gun accounted for 80 percent of firearms used in crimes.

Defensive Use of Guns

The number of justifiable homicides by private citizens (when a citizen kills a felon during the commission of a criminal offense) increased from 196 in 1998 to 225 in 2002. According to the FBI, in 2002 about 184 firearms were used in cases of justifiable homicide in the United States. Of those, most (154) were handguns. (See Table 2.17.) Among law enforcement officers, there were 339 incidents of justifiable homicide in 2002, most of which (294) involved the use of handguns. Although justifiable homicides by law enforcement officers have declined from a five-year high of 369 in 1998, there was a rise in such homicides in years 2001-2002. (See Table 2.18.)

Victim characteristics Employee status Wage and salary workers3793786818823675632526485488470
Under 16 years5655555555
16 to 17 years1111106895855
18 to 19 years19162726211612111414
20 to 24 years1058910270746044494145
25 to 34 years271294280264220215178145142136
35 to 44 years275295290258228216199166177174
45 to 54 years186194205215189171139155165151
55 to 64 years116108104127120120827410081
65 years and older56616165655152383134
Race, ethnicity
Asian or Pacific Islander10512812910010510474858472
American Indian, Eskimo, or Aleut5675655555
Other or unspecified1485171151052013
Type of event
Hitting, kicking, beating52354746504848483736

Other Self-Protective Measures

According to Criminal Victimization in the United States, 2001 Statistical Tables, published by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 70.4 percent of violent crimes, the victims offered resistance to their assailants. Only 0.9 percent used a weapon, while 9.5 percent attacked their assailant without a weapon. Eleven percent scared off or warned off their attackers and another 11 percent persuaded or appeased their attackers. Of those incidents where the victim resisted, their self-protection measure helped the situation in 67.8 percent of the cases.


In 1999 the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) surveyed human resource professionals concerning violence in the workplace. Over half (57 percent) of those responding reported at least one violent incident between 1996 and 1999, an increase from the 48 percent of respondents who reported at least one violent incident in the workplace between 1994 and 1996.

Although violent attacks with firearms, knives, and other weapons receive the most media attention, they are rare in the workplace. Only 1 percent of the SHRM respondents reported shootings, and the same proportion reported stabbings. Verbal threats were the most frequently cited type of workplace violence (39 percent). Pushing and shoving (22 percent) and fistfights (13 percent) were the next most commonly reported incidents. Only 1 percent of respondents said that rape or sexual assault had occurred at work.

Each year the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) gathers data about fatalities from job-related injuries, including homicides. According to the BLS, workplace homicides fell from 1,036 in 1995 to 639 in 2001. Firearms were used in 505 of the 2001 homicides. Males were victims (513) far more often than were females (126). (See Table 2.19.)

According to Workplace Violence: Issues in Response, published by the Critical Incident Response Group, National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, FBI Academy, Quantico, VA, there are certain factors that can "contribute to negativity and stress in the workplace, which in turn may precipitate problematic behavior." Among those factors are:

  • Understaffing that leads to job overload.
  • Frustrations arising from poorly defined job tasks.
  • Downsizing or reorganization.
  • Labor disputes and poor labor/management relations.

The Violence Prevention Center reported on the use of firearms in 65 high-profile shootings between 1963 and 2001. In 71 percent of incidents, a handgun was used, while

Major occupation
Managerial and professional specialty occupations185162149200184156132117141120
Technical, sales, and administrative support jobs353404426381332305239197235203
Service occupations228212251216188181146156130171
Police and detectives62687081556653474962
Farming, forestry, and fishing15111720181019191411
Precision production, craft, and repair jobs43673940373641353834
Operators, fabricators, and laborers21120417816015416213011811396
Major industry
Agriculture, forestry, fishing151318191891919129
Transportation and public utilities117126118987611069706552
Wholesale trade2525202524212126166
Retail trade503525530422437395287264310280
Grocery stores166176196152146141957811192
Eating and drinking places14514513512113510969959193
Gasoline service stations41534136233425171416
Finance, insurance, real estate37353153412822342120
Detective and armored car services23324927292118171621
Note: These data were collected through the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries conducted annually by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in cooperation with numerous federal, state, and local agencies. Data were compiled from various federal, state, and local administrative sources including death certificates, workers' compensation reports and claims, medical examiner reports, police reports, news reports, and reports to various regulatory agencies.
1Detail may not add to total because of the omission of miscellaneous categories.
2The workplace homicides that occurred as a result of the events of Sept. 11, 2001 are not included in this table.
3May include volunteers and other workers receiving compensation.
4Includes paid and unpaid family workers, and may include owners of incorporated businesses or members of partnerships.
5No data reported or data did not meet publication criteria specified by the source.
6Persons identified as Hispanic may be of any race; therefore detail will not add to total.
7Includes fatalities to workers employed by government agencies regardless of industry
source: "Table 3.135: Workplace Homicides by Victim Characteristics, Type of Event, and Selected Occupation and Industry," in Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2002, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Washington, DC, 2003

a shotgun or rifle was used in the remaining 29 percent of incidents. In over half of such shootings (62 percent), the handguns were acquired legally, and in 71 percent of incidents the rifles or shotguns were legal. From 1999 to 2001 there were 25 high-profile shootings in the United States, 12 of which occurred at workplaces and seven at schools.