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Crime Analysis Center
2406 E.
Skipping Rock Way
Oro Valley, Arizona 85737
Phone: (520) 219 8144
Fax: (520) 219 8144
E-mail:
cmakres@netzero.net

Index Crime Pitfalls

Under Reporting Crime

Although the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system has standardized crime definitions and reporting procedures from agency to agency throughout the country, not all crimes that occur are reported to law enforcement agencies. As the Justice Department’s Victimization Survey released June 13, 2001, and other previous studies point out, crime surveys often do not agree with Index crime totals. People are reluctant to report certain crimes or do not feel it is worth their time to do so. Rape and sex crimes are often under reported because the victims are either afraid, embarrassed, or ashamed to come forward and face the scrutiny of the police, friends, and strangers. Offenses such as larceny/theft or vandalism where the loss is insignificant are often under reported as well. Communities in which the distrust or disdain for the police is high will also under report crime.

Part II Crime Increases

Since Index crime is usually the only kind of crime referred to in the national or local media, law enforcement agencies normally do not release Part II crime statistics to the public unless specifically requested to do so. Part II crime contains many categories that may reveal reporting practices that do not adhere to UCR guidelines. If certain Index crimes sharply decease from one year to the next in a city, certain Part II crime categories may show complementary increases. For example, if burglaries decrease, vandalism or malicious mischief and criminal trespass offenses should be examined for increases. Similarly, if aggravated assault offenses decreased, did non-aggravated or simple assaults increase? If such discrepancies exist, the reporting practices of that agency should be reviewed. The FBI may or may not detect the disparities. If detected, the agency is not allowed to report the affected crime to the UCR system until the reporting practice is rectified. (Note: Police annuals available in local libraries or for a small fee in police agencies are possible sources for Part II crime statistics).

Other Reporting Practice Irregularities

Certain other deviations from UCR reporting practices may influence crime counts in some agencies. For example, stolen vehicles that are recovered within a certain time period may not be reported regardless of who took the vehicle. This obviously distorts the accuracy of that crime category.


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