FBI: Most violent crime happens between acquaintances.


There are some charts from the FBI’s new National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS-below) that are wonderful, and some that are developing. This one is useful. Note the offense categories included, it doesn’t include robberies.

This is the fourth article in a series using FBI-NIBRS data including, Most Violent Crime Does Not Involve FirearmsMost Crimes Do Not Involve Arrest, and The Probability Of Violent Victimization.

Where a violent crime happens is instructive. Homes/residences are the most prevalent places for violent crime which returns us to the issue that most violent victimization happens between people who know each other.

So, the majority of violent crime happens between acquaintances. Strangers committed about 1.8 million nonfatal violent crimes, or about 38% of all nonfatal violent victimizations, Bureau Of Justice Statistics. The percentage will change from year to year but what doesn’t change is the fact that most violent crime involves people you know.

Arguments are the driving force in most violent crimes. The second most frequent category is a lover’s quarrel, which is why I focus the conversation with data on nonstranger violence. Some of the most violent crime scenes I witnessed as a police officer were domestic violence incidents or attacks on people who knew each other, Violent Victimization.

Public sidewalks roads or highways is the second-highest category for crimes against people; probably having a much higher rate of non-stranger victimization.

Parking lots/garages are third.

Schools (elementary-secondary) are fourth.

Hotels/Motels are fifth.

Bars/Nightclubs are sixth.

Restaurants are seventh.

Drug store/doctor’s office/hospitals are eighth.

Commercial office buildings are ninth.

Convenience stores are tenth if not including prisons.

Where Crime Happens


As stated, the FBI’s new National Incident-Based Reporting System is developing and the list above should be used advisedly. But it does give the reader some general guidelines as to where crime happens and, with that knowledge, investigate crime prevention strategies.

For example, we know that young people living in cities have a greater probability of being victimized than anyone else. But being a victim of a violent crime depends more on what you do than who you are.

For example, drug and alcohol use greatly heighten your risk of victimization. Most offenders are under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they commit their crimes.

Most rapes happen in a residential setting committed by someone known to you. Who you allow in your house or whose house you to go into is important. Just because you know the person doesn’t mean you are safe from victimization. Trust your instincts.

The vast majority of victimizations happen when you are alone. Regardless of the circumstances, being with another person greatly reduces your chances of harm.

Perceived vulnerability is critical. Criminals prey on the easiest targets including the disabled or repeat victims or the elderly for fraud or burglary. Being under the influence while displaying your expensive smartphone is risky.

Always act as if you are in complete control of yourself and circumstances.

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Murdered officer's grave desecrated before headstone even placed

Crime Prevention 

For additional crime prevention techniques, see Prevention.

The FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)-Background

Implemented to improve the overall quality of crime data collected by law enforcement, NIBRS captures details on each single crime incident, as well as on separate offenses within the same incident, including information on victims, known offenders, relationships between victims and offenders, arrestees, and property involved in crimes.

Unlike data reported through the UCR Program’s traditional Summary Reporting System, an aggregate monthly tally of crimes, NIBRS goes much deeper because of its ability to provide circumstances and context for crimes like location, time of day, and whether the incident was cleared.

As recommended by professional law enforcement organizations, the FBI has made the nationwide implementation of NIBRS a top priority because NIBRS can provide more useful statistics to promote constructive discussion, measured planning, and informed policing.

The vision for NIBRS is for it to become the law enforcement community’s standard for quantifying crime, which will help law enforcement and communities around the country use resources more strategically and effectively. In 2018, approximately 44% of U.S. law enforcement agencies that participated in the UCR Program submitted data via NIBRS.

When used to its full potential, NIBRS identifies, with precision, when and where crime takes place, what form it takes, and the characteristics of its victims and perpetrators. Armed with such information, law enforcement can better define the resources it needs to fight crime, as well as use those resources in the most efficient and effective manner.

NIBRS, 2018, is available at FBI.

More information about the NIBRS transition is available on the NIBRS webpage at FBI.

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