Crime statistics

Call it a patch of blue sky in an otherwise smoggy city, or call it luck. Whatever the reason -- perhaps an upswing in the integrity of humanity? -- the number of serious crimes continues to decline, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR).

The FBI recently announced that serious crime fell 3 percent in 1996, marking the fifth consecutive annual decline. With 1996 rates, the Crime Index is down 10 percent from the 1992 rate, according to the UCR. The crime index measures serious crimes and divides them into violent crimes or property crimes. Reported violent crimes were down 1 percent in 1995: murder and robbery decreased 7 percent, forcible rape fell 6 percent and aggravated assault dropped 3 percent. Property crimes decreased 1 percent overall as well: burglary and motor-vehicle theft dropped 5 percent, and arson was down 4 percent. The only category that experienced a slight increase was larceny/theft, which rose 1 percent.

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According to the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), one in six violent crimes occurs in the workplace, including 7 percent of all rapes, 8 percent of all robberies and 16 percent of all assaults. The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) compiled these statistics based on its surveys of more than 100,000 persons in more than 49,000 U.S. households. The NCVS conducts the surveys to determine frequency, characteristics and consequences of criminal victimization in the United States.

During the 1987 to 1992 period, the NCVS found that "of the approximately 3.2 million violent crimes and thefts in the workplace, about 500,000 victims lose an estimated 1.8 million workdays each year and $55 million in wages, not including days covered by sick and annual leave."

The survey also reports that an annual average of more than 2 million personal thefts occurred in the workplace during the same period, as well as 200,000 motor-vehicle thefts.

These figures are based on crimes reported to police. However, BJS ascertains that more than half of all workplace incidents go unreported because, "40 percent said they believed the matter was minor or too personal, and 27 percent said they reported the incident to another official, such as a company security guard."

To protect your business from becoming a victim of crime, consider taking some preventive measures, such as installing a security system, developing a corporate-ethics policy and encouraging your employees to report fraudulant and criminal behavior.

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reports, 1995; Workplace Violence, U.S. Department of Justice, July 24, 1994.

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