Home Invasion Statistics and Definitions from the FBI

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Though the term “home invasion” is used extensively by the media to describe a certain type of crime, only a few states have laws that define and punish a crime called “home invasion.” The rest of the time, the term is used loosely, often to create headlines or express a point of view.

Here at Home Invasion News we have attempted to define a particular type of crime as “classic home invasion.” We are, however, quick to note that no government- or law-enforcement-generated statistics for this crime are available.

The FBI, which compiles a range of crime statistics from data collected around the country, has no information on the number and rate of “home invasions.” The most relevant national crime statistic related to “classic home invasion” would be “robbery.”

Why robbery?

The FBI classifies robbery as a “violent crime.” By the FBI’s definition, violent crimes include: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

So far so good, but the FBI’s definition of robbery is, “The taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.” Clearly some robberies, while very serious, are not home invasions (car jacking comes to mind).

In addition to “robbery,” another FBI category of crime — aggravated assault — is sometimes associated with classic home invasion.

The FBI says that “aggravated assault” is “an unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. This type of assault usually is accompanied by the use of a weapon or by means likely to produce death or great bodily harm. Simple assaults are excluded.”

Again, although aggravated assault is a characteristic of classic home invasion, aggravated assaults are not necessarily “home invasions.” For example, beating someone badly with an object behind a bar or in an alley, is not a home invasion, but it is likely an aggravated assault.

And then there’s “burglary.”

As defined by the FBI, burglary is “The unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or a theft” (attempted forcible entry is included).” By the FBI’s definition, burglary itself does not incorporate the use of force or violence. This is an important distinction, because, in “classic home invasion,” violence or the threat of violence is part of our understanding.

Having said all of that, Home Invasion News believes that there is still much to be learned from FBI statistics. And what we have learned may surprise you.

In the United States, FBI reports show that, until 2012, the crime rate for robbery had been falling every year since 1991. The “rate of robbery” shown in FBI statistics reflects the number of robberies per 100,000 population.

Unfortunately, on January 14, 2012, the FBI released its Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, which showed that the number of violent crimes reported in the first six months of 2012 increased 1.9 percent when compared with figures from the first six months of 2011. The number of property crimes increased 1.5 percent for the same time frame. The report is based on information from more than 13,300 law enforcement agencies that submitted three to six comparable months of data to the FBI in the first six months of 2011 and 2012.

In 2010, the last year for which full statistics are available, the robbery rate in the United States was at its lowest level since 1968 (1960 is the first year in which FBI statistics were compiled).

The highest rate of robbery was in 1991. From then, until 2001, the robbery rate fell steadily. It rose again slightly in 2001, at which time the annual robbery rate began to fluctuate slightly — some years up a bit, some years down — though the robbery rate since 2001 has remained at about half the rate of the 1991 high.

How are things shaping up lately?

In the first half of 2010 (January – June), the overall U.S. robbery rate continued to decline (off 10.9% over 2009 levels).

Aggravated assault rates also were down (3.9%) compared to 2009.

Everybody is a bit puzzled about lower violent crime rates in the face of a suffering economy. If you want to explore further or see what’s up in your area, check out the great Uniform Crime Rate Data Tool, found here.

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