Types of Crime - Larceny-theft

percent thefts total age

The FBI defines larceny-theft as "the unlawful taking, carrying, leading, or riding away of property from the possession … of another" in which no use of force or fraud occurs. This crime category includes offenses such as shoplifting, pocket-picking, purse-snatching, thefts from motor vehicles, bicycle thefts, and so on. It does not include embezzlement, "con" games, forgery, and passing bad checks. (See Figure 2.4.)

In 2002 law enforcement agencies reported seven million larceny-theft offenses for a rate of 2,445.8 per 100,000 people. This crime category amounted to 51.9 percent of the Crime Index total arrests and 71.9 percent of all property crime arrests. The rate of larceny-theft declined by 1.6 percent from 2001, by 10.4 percent compared to 1998, and by 19.4 percent from 1993. (See Table 2.1.)

The larceny-theft rate in 2002 was 3,107.9 per 100,000 inhabitants in cities outside metropolitan areas, and 2,596.4 per 100,000 in metropolitan areas. Rural counties reported an average rate for larceny-theft of 1005.0 per 100,000 residents. The South, the most populous area of the nation, accounted for 40.9 percent of the total number of larceny-theft offenses, with the West (23.6 percent), Midwest (22.3 percent), and Northeast (13.2 percent) making up the rest. (See Table 2.2.) Larceny-theft occurred most frequently in July and August and least often in February.

FIGURE 2.2
Number of bank robbery incidents reported, 1990–2001

Losses

The average value of property stolen (excluding motor vehicles) in 2002 was $699, and the estimated total amount stolen was $4.9 billion. The estimated loss is considered conservative because many larceny-thefts of small amounts are never reported to authorities. The average amount taken differed depending on the specific crime. For example, the average value for pickpocket offenses was $328; the average purse-snatching, $332. Shoplifting resulted in an average loss of $187. (See Table 1.8 in Chapter 1.)

Miscellaneous thefts from buildings and thefts from motor vehicles (except accessories) averaged $1,013 and $692, respectively. The average loss for bicycle theft was $257 per incident and from coin-operated machines, $250. The largest proportion of larceny was thefts from motor vehicles (except accessories), which accounted for 26.5 percent of larceny-thefts in 2002, while thefts from buildings and shoplifting accounted for 12.5 percent and 14.0 percent, respectively. Bicycle theft accounted for 3.9 percent.

Arrests

About 18.0 percent of larceny-thefts reported in 2002 were cleared. Of those arrested for larceny-theft, 29.5 percent were under 18 years of age.

Females were arrested more often for larceny-theft than for any other offense in 2002, and comprised 37.0

TABLE 2.11
Age, race, and sex of offender, 1996–2000

Race of offender
Sex/Age of offender Asian/Pacific Islander Black American Indian/Alaskan Native unknown race White Total
Total unknown age, sex, and race 508
Female
12–17 8 8
18–24 26 39 65
25–29 22 20 42
30–34 13 18 31
35–39 6 8 14
40–44 2 6 8
45–49 1 5 6
50–54 2 5 7
55–59 1 4 5
over 64 1 1 2
unknown age 5 2 9 16
Total female 79 2 123 204
Male
12–17 92 2 37 131
18–24 5 465 1 8 287 766
25–29 327 15 212 554
30–34 221 6 179 406
35–39 1 103 3 154 261
40–44 61 1 121 183
45–49 36 1 3 59 99
50–54 15 1 35 51
55–59 9 1 15 25
60–64 5 5
over 64 5 9 14
unknown age 1 262 65 139 467
Total male 7 1,596 2 105 1,252 2,962
Unknown sex
12–17 1 1
18–24 5 5
25–29 2 4 1 7
30–34 4 4
40–44 1 1
50–54 1 7 8
55–59 1 1
over 64 1 1
unknown age 163 4 167
Total unknown sex 3 186 6 195
SOURCE: "Table 5.11: Age, Race, and Sex of Offender, NIBRS Data, 1996–2000," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003

percent of all arrestees for larceny-theft. About two-thirds (67.9 percent) of those arrested for larceny theft in 2002 were white, compared to 29.3 percent who were black.

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