Violence and Theft in the Workplace (BJS Crime Data)

Violence and Theft in the Workplace (BJS Crime Data)

Bureau of Justice Statistics

Bureau of Justice Statistics. (Summer 1994). "Violence and Theft in the Workplace (BJS Crime Data)." Alaska Justice Forum 11(2): 7. Each year nearly one million individuals become victims of violent crime while working or on duty. These victimizations account for 15% of the over 6.5 million acts of violence experienced by Americans age 12 or older. This report describe these crime using data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) for 1987-1992. Based on the BJS Crime Data Brief "Violence and Theft in the Workplace", NCJ-148199.

Each year nearly one million individuals become victims of violent crime while working or on duty. These victimizations account for 15 per cent of the over 6.5 million acts of violence experienced by Americans age 12 or older. In addition, over 2 million personal thefts and over 200,000 car thefts occur annually while persons are at work. This report analyzes data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) for 1987 to 1992 to describe these crimes.

The National Crime Victimization Survey conducts interviews with over 100,000 individuals age 12 or older annually. Respondents who reported a violent victimization and said they were either working or on duty when asked, "What were you doing when the incident happened?" represent the sample for this report. This does not include those victims who said they were on their way to or from work.

Crime victimizations occurring in the workplace cost about half a million employees 1,751,100 days of work each year, an average of 3.5 days per crime. This missed work resulted in over $55 million in lost wages annually, not including days covered by sick and annual leave.

Among people victimized while working, men were more likely than women to experience a violent crime. However, women were just as likely as men to become the victims of theft while working.

Table 1. Average Annual Number of Violent Victimizations in the Workplace, 1987-1992 Table 2. Violent Victimizations in the Workplace, by Sex and Victim-Offender Relationship, 1987-1992

Victims who were working were as likely to face armed offenders as those victimized while not working. Over 30 per cent of victims who were working during a violent victimization faced armed offenders. Almost a third of these offenders had a handgun.

Victims of violence at work were less likely to be injured than victims of violence that occurred away from work. Sixteen per cent of violent victimizations which occurred while the victim was working resulted in physical injuries; 10 per cent of these injuries required medical care.

Among only those persons injured by a crime victimization at work, an estimated 876,800 work days were lost annually, costing employees over $16 million in wages, not including days covered by sick and annual leave.

Six out of 10 incidents of workplace violence occurred in private companies. While government employees make up approximately 18 per cent of the total U.S. workforce, 30 per cent of the victims of violence in this sample were federal, state, or local government employees. Several factors may be responsible for this overrepresentation, including a potentially high risk of victimization for particular government occupations such as public safety personnel.

Although men who were victimized while working were more likely to be attacked by a stranger, women were more likely to be attacked by someone known to them than by a stranger. Five per cent of the women victimized at work were attacked by a husband, ex-husband, boyfriend, or ex-boyfriend.

Over half of all victimizations sustained at work were not reported to the police. When individuals were asked why they did not report, 40 per cent said they believed the incident to be a minor or private matter. An additional 27 per cent did not report to police because they reported the victimization to another official such as a company security guard.

This article is a summary of a Crime Data Brief released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Figure 1. Percentage of Total Victimizations Occurring in the Workplace for Selected Crimes, 1987-1992