In the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, property crime includes the offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. The object of the theft‑type offenses is the taking of money or property, but there is no force or threat of force against the victims. The property crime category includes arson because the offense involves the destruction of property; however, arson victims may be subjected to force. Because of limited participation and varying collection procedures by local agencies, only limited data are available for arson. Arson statistics are included in trend, clearance, and arrest tables throughout Crime in the United States, but they are not included in any estimated volume data. The arson section in this report provides more information on that offense.
|Year||Number of offenses||Rate per 100,000 inhabitants|
An estimated 10,328,255 property crimes were committed in the Nation in 2004, representing a 1.1-percent decrease from the 2003 estimate, a 1.4-percent increase compared with the 2000 estimate, and a 14.4‑percent decrease from the 1995 estimate.
In 2004, each of the individual property crimes showed a decrease from the 2003 estimates. The number of motor vehicle thefts was down 1.9 percent, the number of larceny‑thefts was down 1.1 percent, and the number of burglaries was down 0.5 percent. (See Tables 1 and 1A.)
The estimated property crime rate per 100,000 inhabitants (3,517.1) in 2004 declined 2.1 percent when compared with the 2003 rate. When compared with data from 2000, the rate was down 2.8 percent, and when compared with the 1995 figure, the rate had decreased 23.4 percent. (See Tables 1 and 1A.)
The UCR Program separates the United States into four regions: the Northeast, the Midwest, the South, and the West. (Geographic region breakdowns can be found in Appendix III.) Property crime data collected by the UCR Program and aggregated by region reflected the following:
The Northeast Region accounted for 18.6 percent of the Nation’s population in 2004; 12.5 percent of the estimated number of property crimes that were committed in the Nation occurred in that region. (See Table 3.) In 2004, law enforcement in the Northeast had a 2.1‑percent decrease in property crimes from the previous year’s figure. The property crime rate, estimated at 2,358.9 per 100,000 inhabitants, decreased 2.4 percent from the 2003 number. (See Table 4.)
The Midwest, comprised of 22.4 percent of the Nation’s population in 2004, accounted for 20.9 percent of the estimated number of property crimes in the United States. (See Table 3.) Law enforcement in the Midwest Region had a 2.5‑percent decrease in property crimes from the previous year’s figure. Estimated at a rate of 3,281.0 property crimes per 100,000 in population, the 2004 figure decreased 2.9 percent from the 2003 data. (See Table 4.)
Just over 36 percent (36.1) of the Nation’s population resided in the South in 2004, and law enforcement agencies in the region had an estimated 41.3 percent of the country’s property crimes. (See Table 3.) When compared with data from the previous year, the South had a decrease of 0.8 percent in the estimated number of property crimes. The 2004 property crime rate, 4,022.2 per 100,000 inhabitants, was 2.2 percent lower than the 2003 rate. (See Table 4.)
Property Crime by Month
Percent Distribution, 2000-2004
In 2004, the West accounted for 23.0 percent of the Nation’s total population, and 25.4 percent of the country’s property crimes. (See Table 3.) From 2003 to 2004, the estimated number of property crimes in the West increased slightly (+0.2 percent). The rate was estimated at 3,891.2 property crimes per 100,000 inhabitants, a 1.3‑percent decline from the 2003 rate. (See Table 4.)
The UCR Program aggregates data by three community types: Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), cities outside metropolitan statistical areas, and nonmetropolitan counties. (Additional in-depth information regarding community types is located in Appendix III.) In 2004, an estimated 82.9 percent of the Nation’s population resided in an MSA. The rate in this community type was 3,697.1 property crimes per 100,000 inhabitants. Cities outside metropolitan areas, comprising 6.8 percent of the Nation’s population, had a rate of 4,109.5 property crimes per 100,000 in population. Nonmetropolitan counties accounted for an estimated 10.4 percent of the Nation’s inhabitants. These counties had a rate of 1,690.5 property crime offenses per 100,000 inhabitants. (See Table 2.)
The UCR Program organizes the agencies that contribute data into population groups, which include cities, metropolitan counties, and nonmetropolitan counties. (Appendix III of this book provides an explanation of these groups.) From 2003 to 2004, law enforcement in the Nation’s cities collectively reported a 1.8-percent decrease in the number of property crimes. All city population groups experienced decreases, with the largest decrease, 3.3 percent, in cities with populations of 250,000 or more. Nonmetropolitan and metropolitan counties experienced decreases of 1.1 and 0.9 percent, respectively. (See Table 12.)
The country’s cities collectively had a rate of 4,240.2 property crime offenses per 100,000 inhabitants. Nonmetropolitan counties had a property crime rate of 1,743.9 per 100,000 people, and metropolitan counties experienced a rate of 2,529.6 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants. Property crime rates for each of the population groups are furnished in Table 16.
The estimated dollar loss attributable to property crimes (excluding arson) in 2004 was $16.1 billion, representing a 5.0‑percent decrease when compared with the 2003 estimate. Among the individual property crimes, the dollar losses were an estimated $3.5 billion for burglary, nearly $5.1 billion for larceny‑theft, and $7.6 billion for motor vehicle theft. (Based on Table 1 and Table 23.) Arson had an average dollar loss of $12,017 for the 63,215 offenses for which monetary figures were reported. (See Table 2.31.)
Law enforcement agencies reporting crime to the UCR Program can clear, or “close,” the offense in one of two ways: by arrest or, when elements are beyond the control of law enforcement prevent the agency from arresting and formally charging the offender, by exceptional means. (Additional information regarding clearances is provided in Section III, Offenses Cleared.)
Nationwide in 2004, law enforcement agencies, collectively, cleared 16.5 percent of property crimes. Agencies in cities cleared 16.4 percent of property crimes. Law enforcement in cities with populations of 10,000 to 24,999 cleared the largest proportion of their property crimes (20.9 percent) and those in cities with populations of 250,000 and over cleared the smallest percentage of their property crimes, slightly less than 13 percent (12.9). Metropolitan county law enforcement agencies reported 16.9 percent of property crimes cleared by arrest or exceptional means, and agencies in nonmetropolitan counties reported 17.8 percent of property crimes cleared. (See Table 25.)
Regionally, law enforcement agencies in the Northeast cleared the highest percentage of property crimes at 20.2 percent. Law enforcement agencies in the South cleared 16.9 percent; those in the Midwest, 16.2 percent; and agencies in the West cleared 14.6 percent of property crimes. (See Table 26.)
Special conditions exist concerning clearances and juveniles. Data users should know that when an offender under the age of 18 is cited to appear in juvenile court or before other juvenile authorities, the UCR Program considers the incident for which the juvenile is being held responsible to be cleared by arrest, although a physical arrest may not have occurred. In addition, clearances that include both adult and juvenile offenders are classified as clearances for crimes committed by adults. Additional details concerning clearances as they relate to juveniles are provided in Section III, Offenses Cleared.
In 2004, 18.9 percent of the property crime clearances nationwide involved persons under the age of 18. In cities collectively, 19.6 percent of the clearances for property crime involved juveniles only. Among the population groups labeled city, the percentages of clearances involving only juveniles ranged from a low of 16.4 percent in cities with populations of 250,000 and over to a high of 21.7 percent in cities with populations of 50,000 to 99,999. Law enforcement in metropolitan counties reported 16.4 percent of property crime clearances involved persons under the age of 18 and those in nonmetropolitan counties, 14.8 percent. (See Table 28.)