AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

What's really going on with crime?

Crime trends have garnered a lot of attention during the presidential campaign, with plenty of disagreement about whether we're safer than ever or about to get gunned down while walking the dog.

So, what's the truth?

The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics on Thursday released its latest national report on crime victims, showing little change between 2014 and 2015 in the likelihood of becoming a victim of a violent offense. In 2015, there were 18.6 violent victimization per 1,000 people age 12 and older. That was about the same as the 2014 rate, BJS reported.

A look farther back in time, however, suggests the nation has gotten much safer. In 1993, there were 79.8 "victimizations" per 1,000 people involving violent crime -- more than four times the 2015 rate.

The oldest year available from the National Crime Victimization Surve is 1993.

The chances of being a victim of these crimes dropped from 2014 to 2015, the report found, with the victimization rate declining from 118.1 to 110.7 "victimizations" per 1,000 houses from 2014 to 2015.

As with violent crime, the rates are much lower today than they were two decades ago. From 1993 to 2015, property crime "victimizations" declined from 351.8 to 110.7 per 1,000 households, the report found. BJS noted that the biggest drops in property crime rates took place between 1993 and 2001.

What are the chances that the average American will be a victim of crime?

The report said that in 2015, 2.7 million people -- almost one percent of Americans age 12 or older -- was the victim of at least one violent crime. About 10 million households -- about 7.6 percent of all households -- became a victim of one or more property crimes last year, according to the report.

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About the Author

Carrie Teegardin is on the investigative team. She is a graduate of Duke University and has won numerous national journalism awards.