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The Release of Hate Crime Statistics 2003...and What the Numbers Tell Us


Graphic for Hate Crime Statistics 2003There's an old saying, "What you measure, you manage."

Precisely why the FBI makes an annual accounting of hate crimes across the U.S. for the entire law enforcement community and for the nation.

The FBI has been investigating hate crimes—traditional offenses like murder, arson, and vandalism with an added element of bias—as far back as the early 1920s, in connection with the Ku Klux Klan. In 1990, Congress asked the Attorney General—who turned to the FBI—to start collecting and publishing hate crime statistics every year.

So what does this year's report-- more than 150 pages worth of charts, statistics, and analysis-- say about the state of hate crimes in the U.S.?

Here's a few insights:

  • The total number of hate crimes reported is holding steady at one of its lowest levels in the past decade. The 7,489 incidents last year are just 27 more than 2002. And the 2002 stats were the lowest since 1994.
  • Most of the 9,100 total victims were targeted because of their race. Just over 52%, in fact. Religion and sexual orientation were a distant second, at 16% each.
  • Hate-based murders, thankfully, are few and far between. Last year, 14 individuals were murdered—less than two-tenths of one percent of all victims.
  • Vandalism and destruction are the preferred methods of attack. They represent 83% of hate-driven property crimes and 35% of all hate crimes.
  • Intimidation was the most frequently reported hate crime. It accounted for nearly half of the total crimes against persons last year.
  • Location? Nearly one third of all incidents last year took place in or near a home or residence.

For 13 years running, our annual report on hate crimes has been used by everyone from community leaders to elected officials ... from civil rights activists to law enforcement analysts ... to better understand and potentially prevent crimes of bias.

For more information: Check out the full 2003 report and press release. You can also review all Hate Crime Statistics publications since 1995 on our Uniform Crime Reports webpage. And please visit our Civil Rights webpage.