Many categories of violent crime in the U.S. showed significant increases last year, according to the newly released National Crime Victimization Survey. (NCVS).
NCVS usually gets less attention than the annual compilation of crime reports to local police departments released by the FBI, which is not expected until next month for calendar year 2022.
However, the victimization survey is considered a more reliable indicator of crime trends by some analysts because it includes estimates of the large number of crimes not reported to the police. Only about 40 percent of violent crimes are reported to law enforcement.
NCVS estimated a total of 6,624,950 violent crimes last year, way above the 4,598,310 for 2021 and even higher than the 6,385,570 recorded before the pandemic in 2018.
Several crime types increased during the main pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, which experts have attributed to more stress among U.S. residents generally and the fact that more people were confined indoors.
The estimated number of robberies in the nation last year was 694,860, far above the 2021 NCVS estimate of 464,280.
The FBI reported only about 121,000 robberies last year, but that was a severe undercount because many robberies are not reported to police and because the FBI is in the process of converting its reporting to a new incident-based reporting system and heard from only about 12,000 of 19,000 police departments.
NCVS is developing crime estimates by region but did not release such data in its report for 2022.
Last week, WBEZ radio in Chicago reported what it called a massive increase in robberies across the city. The total was up 43% compared to the same time period last year, according to data from the city’s Violence Reduction Dashboard.
WBEZ said "the robbery spike is part of Chicago’s uneven recovery from the height of the pandemic crime spikes: Shootings, murders and carjackings are down, while robberies and thefts are soaring."
Rapes and sexual assaults were estimated to total 531,810 last year compared with 324,500 in 2021.
NCVS estimates for last year were based on interviews with members of nearly 144,000 households. Because the survey asks Americans if they have been victims of crimes, it does not measure homicides.
Experts caution against making too much of one-year changes in national crime totals, noting that crime rates have a history of varying considerably from year to year.
Still, the newly reported crime increases are likely to be cited by politicians campaigning for offices in 2024 and complaining that the national crime rate remains much too high.
NCVS reported large increases in most sub-categories of violent crime, including domestic violence, intimate partner violence, "stranger" violence, violent crime with an injury and violent crime with a weapon.
Property crime, including burglaries and vehicle theft, also were up last year, but by much smaller margins than violent crime, NCVS said.
The violent crime totals "remained much lower than the highs of the early 1990s,” said Kevin Scott, principal deputy director of the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, which administers NCVS.