When assessing the crime risk of a Place, it is important to distinguish violent crimes which pose a threat to the general users of a Place versus those that pose a threat to specific individuals. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (Department of Justice) defines two types of crime categories based on the relationship of the offender and victim:
- “Stranger” is a classification of the victim’s relationship to the offender for crimes involving direct contact between the two. Incidents are classified as involving strangers if the victim identifies the offender as a stranger, did not see or recognize the offender, or knew the offender only by sight. Crimes involving multiple offenders are classified as involving non-strangers if any of the offenders was a non-stranger. Since victims of theft without contact rarely see the offender, no distinction is made between strangers and non-strangers for the crime.
- “Non-stranger” is a classification of a crime victim’s relationship to the offender. An offender who is either related to, well known to, or casually acquainted with the victim is a non-stranger. For crimes with more than one offender, if any of the offenders are non-strangers, then the group of offenders as a whole is classified as non-stranger. This category only applies to crimes which involve contact between the victim and the offender; the distinction is not made for crimes of theft since victims of this offense rarely see the offenders.
Non-stranger (also known as interpersonal) crime is aimed at a specific individual, such as a spouse. These types of crimes are not a direct threat to others. Increasingly, law enforcement agencies collect data regarding the relationship between the victim of a crime and the offender. Unfortunately, this trend has not extended to aggregated crime data sets such as the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) or even within most law enforcement agencies crime reporting areas (e.g. beat, district, etc.). Using Police Offense Reports, it is often possible to determine if the crime involved parties known to each other. When assessing the risk of violence to general users of a Place, it is more important to look at past non-stranger violent crimes.
The New York Times wrote an article recently on the rarity of stranger violent crimes and the Department of Justice published a Report entitled Violent Victimization Committed by Strangers, 1993-2010 that confirms the rarity of stranger violent crimes. This Report found that strangers committed about 38% of nonfatal violent crimes, including rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault in 2010. When assessing crime at a specific Place, an analysis of stranger vs. non-stranger crime should be undertaken. Our Crime Analysis findings at Places across the county have found that the majority violent crimes committed at client properties is non-stranger. In residential environments, in particular, non-stranger violent crimes often far exceed the number of stranger violent crimes as seen in the example below.