Violent crimes represent a small but significant portion of the reported crime in the United States.  Categorically, violent crimes occur at a much lower frequency as compared to property crimes and disorder crimes.  However, violent crimes can cause significant harm.  While a robust body of knowledge regarding the effectiveness of crime prevention measures for property and disorder crimes exists, far less evidence exists regarding the effectiveness of security measures used to prevent violent crime.  In other words, criminals engaged in disorder crimes (e.g., vandalism) and property crimes (e.g., theft) are more likely to be deterred via common security measures, while those engaged in violent crimes (e.g., robbery) are less likely to be deterred.  Criminologists have long theorized that violent crimes are difficult to prevent due to the spontaneous and irrational nature of violent incidents and due to the impulsive and expressive nature of violent criminals. The majority of homicides in 2017 were found to be caused by disputes of some kind.

The objective of this article is to explore the nuanced nature of violent crime by disaggregating the disparate forms of violence. Disaggregating crime provides a more complete understanding of risk factors and patterns and can inform decisions on preventability. Criminological research on disaggregated violence types have identified three distinct forms of violence: (1) stranger/predatory violence, (2) dispute-related violence, and (3) targeted violence. Each of these forms of violence is explored below along with a discussion of evidence-based research and challenges for preventing these crimes.

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