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What is the most common crime committed in the U.S.?

According to the FBI's Crime in the United States 2003, the most common violent crime was aggravated assault (one was reported on average every 36.8 seconds); while the most common property crime was larceny (one was reported on average every 4.5 seconds).  The FBI announced these statistics in a press release on October 25, 2004.  Reports for previous and subsequent years can be found at the Uniform Crime Reports page.

Here are the numbers reported by the FBI for 2003, shown from least to most frequent.

 

Number reported

% of total

in 2003, 1 was reported on average in the U.S. every

Violent crimes (total) 1,381,259 11.7%

22.8 seconds

Murder

16,503 0.1% 31.8 minutes
Forcible rape 93,433 0.8% 5.6 minutes
Robbery 413,402 3.5% 1.3 minutes
Aggravated assault

857,921

7.3%

36.8 seconds
Property crimes (total) 10,435,523 88.3%

3 seconds

Motor vehicle theft 1,260,471 10.7% 25 seconds
Burglary 2,153,464 18.2% 14.6 seconds
Larceny-theft 7,021,588 59.4% 4.5 seconds

In another example that shows why teaching process is more important than teaching answers, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) produces yearly statistics on crime in the U.S. too.  However, the ones they produce are based on interviews with victims conducted as part of the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), rather than reports from police agencies.  Consequently, murders are not reported since there are no living victims to interview.  Most of the other categories, though, show much larger numbers than do the FBI reports.  From this, one can conclude that there is a great deal of unreported crime in the U.S.  On the other hand, while the BJS numbers show much more crime, the relative magnitude of the various crime categories remains the same.   Two statisticians from the Bureau of Justice Statistics discussed the data differences in this article.

Here are the numbers reported by the Bureau of Justice Statistics for 2003, shown from least to most frequent.  I've used the FBI frequency calculation method to prepare the right-hand column of this table in order to make the two tables as comparable as possible.

 

Number reported

% of total

in 2003, 1 occurred on average in the U.S. every

Violent crimes (total) 1,896,090 9.3%

16.6 seconds

Murder

     
Forcible rape 198,850 1.7% 2.6 minutes
Robbery 596,130 5.0% 52.9 seconds
Aggravated assault

1,101,110

9.3%

28.6 seconds
Property crimes (total) 18,582,670 90.7%

1.7 seconds

Motor vehicle theft 988,760 4.8% 31.9 seconds
Burglary 3,395,620 16.6% 9.3 seconds
Larceny-theft 14,198,290 69.3% 2.2 seconds

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original web posting: Thursday, December 10, 1998
last modified: Saturday, June 16, 2012