In the early 1970s, research by the National Opinion Research Center and the President's Commission on Law Enforcement, and the Administration of Justice indicated that many crimes were not reported to police. In response, the U.S. Census Bureau began conducting the annual National Crime Victimization Survey in 1973.
The National Crime Victimization Survey is sponsored by the Justice Department, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Each year, data are obtained from a nationally representative sample of 76,000 households comprising approximately 135,300 persons on the frequency, characteristics, and consequences of criminal victimization in the United States. The survey enables BJS to estimate the likelihood of victimization by rape, sexual assault, robbery, assault, theft, household burglary, and motor vehicle theft for the population as a whole as well as for segments of the population such as women, the elderly, members of various racial groups, city dwellers, or other groups.
The survey provides the largest national forum for victims to describe the impact of crime and characteristics of violent offenders. The data published from the survey include type of crime, month, time, and location of the crime; relationship between victim and offender; characteristics of the offender; self-protective actions taken by the victim during the incident and results of those actions; consequences of the victimization; type of property lost; whether the crime was reported to the police and reasons for reporting or not reporting; and offender use of weapons, drugs, and alcohol. Basic demographic information, such as age, race, gender, and income is also collected to enable analysis of crime by various subpopulations.
For more information, visit the Bureau of Justice Statistics' National Crime Victimization Survey website.