The nation’s crime rate was unchanged last year, holding at the lowest levels since the government began surveying crime victims in 1973, the Justice Department reported Sunday. Since 1993, violent crime as measured by victim surveys has fallen by 57 percent and property crime by 50 percent. The 2004 violent crime rate — assault, sexual assault and armed robbery — was 21.4 victims for every 1,000 people age 12 and older. That amounts to about one violent crime victim for every 47 U.S. residents, reports the Associated Press.
The survey put the rate for property crimes of burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft in 2004 at 161 for every 1,000 people, compared with 163 the year before. Many explanations have been advanced for decline in violent crime, including the record prison population of more than 2 million people, the addition of 100,000 police officers since the mid-1990s and even a deterrent effect that terrorism might have had on street crime. The Justice Department report noted that blacks, men (except in cases of sexual assaults) and young people were victimized most often; nearly two-thirds of women knew their attackers, while men were just as likely to be attacked by strangers, and renters were victims of property crimes more often than homeowners.