Fewer Americans Report Their Household Has Been Victimized by Crime
Twenty-two percent of Americans say a conventional crime was committed against their household in the previous 12 months, the lowest proportion since 2001, says a new Gallup poll. Over the past decade, the percentage reporting their household was victimized by any of seven different crimes averaged 26% and never dropped below 24%.
This year's drop in crime was not reported across all groups equally, Gallup said. Nonwhites and those with annual household incomes under $40,000 are about as likely this year as they were in 2016 to say their household had experienced a crime.
Some crimes were also much more likely to occur than others:
- 12% said someone in their household had money or property stolen, down from 17% in 2016.
- 10% were the victims of vandalism, down from 14% last year.
- 3% had their house or apartment broken into, down from 5%.
- 3% had an automobile stolen, compared with 4% in 2016.
- 2% said someone in their household was mugged or physically assaulted, compared with 3% last year.
- 2% said someone in their household was sexually assaulted, compared with 1% in 2016.
- 1% had money or property taken by force with a gun, a knife, another weapon or physical attack, compared with 2% in 2016.
Each year since 2000, Gallup said, vandalism and theft have been the most common crimes that Americans experience. The percentage saying these types of crimes occurred to them or someone in their household has never dropped below 10%, while no more than 6% have experienced the other types of crime.
In all cases,Gallup said, the crime may or may not have been reported to the police. Some official statistics on crime rely only on counts of crimes reported to police, so they may underestimate crime incidence. Not included in the list are digital crimes such as identity theft or computer hacking, which will be the subject of a future Gallup report.
Asked about their own experiences rather than the situation for their household as a whole, 15% of U.S. adults say they have been the victim of at least one of the crimes. That is an insignificant drop of one percentage point from last year's 16%, Gallup said. Since the index's inception in 2000, annual results have ranged between 14% and 19%.
Most personal victims of a crime -- 10% of all adults -- say it happened once in the last year. But another 5% were victimized at least twice.
According to Gallup, Americans ranked crime as one of the nation's most important problems two decades ago, but the combination of dramatically falling crime rates through most of the 1990s and the rise of other issues in the new century pushed it down the priority list of national problems.