Many U.S. Crimes Go Unreported, Unprosecuted

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Only about half of the violent crimes and a third of the property crimes that occur in the U.S. each year are reported to police. Most of the crimes reported don’t result in the arrest, charging and prosecution of a suspect, reports the Pew Research Center. In 2015, 47 percent of the violent crimes and 35 percent of the property crimes tracked by the Bureau of Justice Statistics were reported to police. Those figures come from an annual survey of 90,000 households that asks Americans 12 and older whether they were victims of a crime in the past six months and, if so, whether they reported that crime to law enforcement or not.

Looking at the data collected by the two agencies provides a big-picture view of the kinds of crimes that are likeliest to be reported to police and the kinds that are likeliest to be solved. It shows that there is significant variation in the reporting and solving of crimes, depending on the specific kind of offense. Of the individual property crimes tracked by BJS, for example, theft is the least likely to be reported to police (possibly because it is also the most common form of property crime). Only 29 percent  of thefts were reported in 2015.

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