Half of the USA’s most serious crimes are not reported

Percentages regarding the reporting of crimes and incidents to the authorities (the dark figure) is one of the items of information uncovered by crime surveys.

    • In the USA, in 2016, approximately half (51%) of the most serious violent crimes were reported (sexual assault, theft with violence and serious violent assault).
    • Percentages fall to 42% regarding violent crime in general, and to 36% regarding crime against property.
    • The type of incidents with the lowest dark figure is the theft of motor vehicles, given that 80% of such cases are reported.
    • Meanwhile, sexual assault is the least reported, at 23%.

Crime rates

The crime rate was 21.1 for violent crime per 1,000 inhabitants over 12 years of age. Of these, 7 of each 1,000 correspond to serious crime, and the remaining 14.1 refer to minor assaults. Of all violent crime, the rate was higher when it concerned assault by strangers (8.2) as opposed to violence involving a partner (2.2 crimes per 1,000 inhabitants). Within the area of violent assault, almost 1.8 crimes involved the use of firearms per 1,000 inhabitants; of which 61% were reported (this figure includes both the showing of the firearm and its actual use).

Regarding crime against property, the surveys showed that there had been 119.4 incidents per 1,000 homes; of which 90.3 correspond to theft or robbery without violence and without entering the home, 24.7 to burglaries or unlawful entry, and 4.4 to vehicle theft.


These are some of the results provided by the latest edition of the US crime survey , published by the US Justice Department in December 2017.The surveys were carried out, in 2016, with 224,520 residents in the USA over 12 years of age and in 134,690 homes, and who were asked about incidents that had occurred during the previous six months. This year the sample has been redesigned to take in the changes which have taken place in the census of the population and to be able to make estimations in the 22 most populated states and in some of the metropolitan areas of these states. Consequently, the results cannot be directly compared with previous years. Despite this, those in charge state that the sample is the same in these areas, and that any changes are not statistically significant.

This data complements that obtained by police statistics and which we included some weeks ago in Security Notes.


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