The magnitude of the crime problem in the United States is fairly well known and will be sketched only briefly here.
The most recently published detailed crime statistics are for 1997.1 That year, in the United States one property crime was committed on average every 3 seconds. One violent crime was committed every 19 seconds. On average, there was a burglary every 13 seconds, a motor vehicle theft every 23 seconds, a robbery every minute, a forcible rape every 5 minutes, and a murder every 29 minutes.2
Firearms were used in 67.8 percent of murders committed (UCR, Table 2.11).
An estimated $15.6 billion in property was stolen. Nearly half of this ($7 billion) resulted from thefts of motor vehicles. The overall recovery rate was 37 percent (UCR, p. 7).
In all, more than 13 million major crimes were reported as Crime Index offenses; that is, almost 5,000 per 100,000 inhabitants. Crime rates were highest in metropolitan areas, lowest in rural counties.____________________