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More Americans See U.S. Crime Problem as Serious

More Americans See U.S. Crime Problem as Serious

Story Highlights

  • New high of 63% say U.S. crime problem is extremely/very serious
  • Majorities say U.S., local crime higher than a year ago
  • 28% report their household has been victimized by crime

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sixty-three percent of Americans describe the crime problem in the U.S. as either extremely or very serious, up from 54% when last measured in 2021 and the highest in Gallup’s trend. The prior high of 60% was recorded in the initial 2000 reading, as well as in 2010 and 2016.

Meanwhile, far fewer, 17%, say the crime problem in their local area is extremely or very serious, but this is also up from 2021 and the highest in the trend by one point over 2014’s 16%.


In addition to the 17% describing the local crime problem as extremely or very serious, 36% say it is moderately serious, 31% not too serious and 16% not at all serious.

The latest results are based on Gallup’s annual Crime survey, conducted Oct. 2-23. Americans have always, by a large margin, perceived the crime situation in the U.S. as worse than the crime situation in their local area.

Public perceptions of the national and local crime problems have been worsening since 2020, when 51% thought the U.S. crime problem was extremely or very serious, and 10% said the same of the local crime problem.

Americans Also See Crime Increasing

More than three-quarters of Americans, 77%, believe there is more crime in the U.S. than a year ago, and a majority, 55%, say the same about crime in their local area.

Both figures are similar to what Gallup measured last year and rank among the most pessimistic readings in the respective trends. Gallup has asked Americans about the direction of local crime since 1972 and national crime since 1989. The high point in perceptions of increased local crime is the 56% registered last year, while the record high for national crime is 89% in 1992. Ratings of increased local crime were about as high as the current ratings in 1981 (54%) and 1992 (54%).


Subgroup Differences in Crime Perceptions

Residents of cities (24%) are more inclined than those living in suburbs (15%) or rural areas (12%) to describe the crime problem in their area as extremely or very serious, but there are no meaningful differences by region of the country.

Similar proportions of city, suburban and rural residents say there is more crime in their area than a year ago. Regionally, however, those living in the West are more likely than those in other parts of the country to report increased local crime.

Republicans are far more likely than Democrats and independents to rate the U.S. crime problem as very serious and to say crime is increasing, both locally and nationally.


Crime Victimization Rates Also Going Up

Americans’ deteriorating perceptions of the crime problem correspond with a recent spike in the percentage reporting that crime has affected their household. Overall, a combined 28% say they or someone in their household has been victimized in the past year by one of seven different crimes asked about in the survey, including vandalism, car theft, burglary, robbery, armed robbery, sexual assault and battery. The composite figure is up from 23% when the question was last asked in 2021 and from 20% -- the low point in the trend -- in 2020.

The highest crime victimization rate in Gallup’s trend, which dates to 2000, was 29% in 2016. In most years, the percentage has been closer to 25%.

Seventeen percent of U.S. adults say they, personally, were the victim of a crime, up from 14% in 2021 but below the high of 19% measured in 2014.


Six percent, tying the high for the trend, report that they or someone in their household has been a victim of a violent crime, which includes battery, sexual assault or armed robbery. The figure was 5% in the prior three readings in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Three percent of adults, unchanged from the past three measurements, were personally victimized by violent crime.

Vandalism and property theft are the most common types of crimes committed against households (16% each) and individuals (9% each). Six percent of U.S. adults say their house or apartment was broken into in the past year, while the other crimes were perpetrated against less than 5% of U.S. households and 1% of Americans.


Compared with the prior measurement in 2021, vandalism has increased the most, rising from 12% to 16% of U.S. households being victimized. Property theft, burglary and sexual assault were statistically unchanged, but up by one or two percentage points.

According to the survey, about one in three crimes, 36%, were unreported, essentially matching the trend average 35% since 2000.

Bottom Line

Recent changes in how the FBI measures crime have made it difficult to assess the real-world trends, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics National Crime Victimization Survey doesn’t always align with the FBI data. Meanwhile, Gallup trends indicate there has been an increase in crime victimization since 2020, according to Americans’ reports of their own experiences in the past year.

Further, perhaps reacting to the sharp rise in the murder rate nationally as well as news stories about car theft and shoplifting, most Americans believe crime is increasing, both in their local area and in the U.S. over the past year. And a record-high 63% of U.S. adults now say the crime situation in the U.S. is extremely or very serious.

Still, crime does not appear to be a top-of-mind concern for Americans, as just 3% name it as the most important problem facing the country, far behind other issues, including the government (19%), the economy (14%), inflation (14%) and immigration (13%). In 1994, an average of 42% of Americans across four separate surveys named crime as the most important problem facing the U.S., making it the top overall problem that year, and leading to major anti-crime legislation being passed by Congress. Crime stayed a prominent issue in ensuing years, with no less than 10% mentioning it between 1995 and mid-2000. It has not exceeded 10% since that time, typically, as now, registering in the low single digits.

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