Legal Review: Most Common Crimes in the United States

FBI statistics indicate that every 22 seconds in the U.S., a violent crime is reported. While violent crimes are certainly sensationalized in the media and popular culture, property crimes are far more prevalent, with one reported about every 3 seconds in the U.S.

In fact, property crimes are actually ten times more prevalent than violent crimes. An average of ten million property crimes are reported each year, whereas around one million violent crimes are reported annually. Here are the most common property and violent crimes in America, in order.


Depending on the state, theft, or larceny, is by far the most common crime in the United States, accounting for almost 60 percent of all reported crimes. Larceny/theft is a nonviolent crime, as it does not require the use of force. Theft is typically classified as a misdemeanor due to its nonviolent nature, partially explaining its prevalence as it does not usually come with jail time.


Burglary is the second most common crime in the United States, with burglary reports totaling over two million burglaries every year. Burglary is also a nonviolent property crime and accounts for around 18 percent of all reported crimes in the United States.

Grand Theft Auto (GTA)

Grand Theft Auto comes in at number three on the most prevalent American crimes, annually accounting for around 10 percent of all crimes in the United States. Depending on the state, GTA may be classified under a variety of different terms, from motor vehicle theft to first-degree theft. With over a million cars reported stolen every year, there appears to be a steady demand on the black market for stolen cars in America.

Aggravated Assault

The first violent crime to crack the top five, aggravated assault is the fourth most common American crime and accounts for around seven percent of all reported crimes. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR), aggravated assault is defined as “an unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury.” Aggravated assault can, but does not necessitate, the use of a weapon or firearm, and aggravated assault of any variety occurs around 800,000 times each year.


The fifth most prevalent crime in the United States is robbery, another violent crime. Robbery is different from simple theft/larceny in that it is theft directly performed on another person. Robbery also necessitates the use of force or coercion, and in many instances, violence is necessary. A robbery can range from a mugging in a dark alley to an elaborate bank heist. Any form of robbery accounts for around three percent of all reported crimes, with about 500,000 robberies committed each year.

Other Types of Prevalent Crime

While the top five most common crimes may be surprising, other well-known crimes such as homicide, DUI, weapons and drugs are also prevalent in the United States, although they are far less plentiful than many people assume. However, simply because these crimes may not crack the top five most common American crimes, they still have devastating effects on the victims and overall community.

Drugs, in particular, have been especially destructive, as possession and trafficking are not only considered crimes, but a new report from the Bureau of Justice (BJS) indicates that drug abuse and addiction were found to be at the root of 21 percent of all crimes. The BJS report also found that 40 percent of all prisoners incarcerated for property crimes and 14 percent of all prisoners incarcerated for violent crimes stated they committed their most serious offense for drug-related reasons.

With over 473,000 Americans currently in prison for seeking drugs, and around one million arrests made each year for drug use and possession, it is clear that the current systems in place to address drug crime and rehabilitation need to be reevaluated.

Punishments for the crimes mentioned above vary depending on a variety of different factors, and every crime is examined and assessed on a unique basis. “If you or someone you know has been accused of committing criminal activity, the first thing you should do is consult an attorney who is knowledgeable about the laws in your area” says attorney Omeed Berenjian of BK Law Group. While the punishments for these crimes may vary, the prevalence of these crimes indicates it does not always do enough to dissuade people from breaking the law.

Ultimately, many Americans’ fears about the most common crimes are misplaced, as they are far more likely to get carjacked or stolen from than murdered or abducted. However, it is important to remember to stay vigilant and keep your doors locked, as you never know who is out there.

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