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NIBRS and NCIC Data used in the CIUS, 2000

Washington, D.C. October 22, 2001
  • FBI National Press Office (202) 324-3691

Section V of Crime in the United States, 2000 presents an analysis of motor vehicle theft and recovery in the United States for the year 1999. The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) and National Crime Information Center (NCIC) data are used in this study, which analyzes and tabulates motor vehicle theft and recovery by day of the week, month of the year, and location of the incident.

The results for both data sets (NIBRS and NCIC) show that by the day of the week, Friday (15.69 percent for NIBRS and 14.97 percent for NCIC) and Saturday (16.13 percent for NIBRS and 14.24 percent for NCIC) are the two days with the highest frequency of motor vehicle theft, and Monday (15.92 percent for NIBRS and 16.08 percent for NCIC) and Tuesday (15.74 percent for NIBRS and 16.42 percent for NCIC) are the days that show the highest recovery rates. The overall recovery rates of 53.10 percent and 51.43 percent for NIBRS and NCIC, respectively, exhibit striking similarities between these two data systems. Although the collection and use of NIBRS data in this study are limited to18 states (currently 22 states report NIBRS data), the rates at which cars are stolen and recovered are similar to the rates in NCIC, which collects data from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories. This significant finding supports that NIBRS at its current level of operation can be considered as a nationally representative data set, at least in the area of motor vehicle theft. It also confirms the reliability and validity of the NIBRS data.

Based on the NIBRS data, higher rates of motor vehicle theft occur in the second half of the year than in the first half. The higher rates of motor vehicle theft during the warmer summer months may be attributable to the same "seasonal" effect associated with other offenses. The fourth-quarter increase may be assigned in part to the availability of new model automobiles and in part to the holiday season. Most of the vehicles are recovered, if they are ever recovered,in the same months in which they were stolen. In addition to day of the week and month of the year, location of the motor vehicle theft incident is another factor that influences the rate of motor vehicle theft. The study shows that most of the incidents took place at such locations as residence/home (35.31 percent), parking lot/garage (22.75 percent), and highway/road/alley (17.96 percent).

The survival analysis model employed in this study reveals the patterns and chance of recovering the stolen cars based on the number of days elapsed since the theft incident. Based on the NIBRS data used in the analysis, 57.08 percent of the stolen motor vehicles are recovered in the first day and 79.43 percent are recovered during the first six days, which indicates that the first few days after the theft are critical in recovering the stolen vehicles. The longer the vehicle is in the possession of the criminals, the less the chance of recovery.

In terms of clearance, the study demonstrates that the age group between 12 to 17 has the largest number of motor vehicle theft arrests for both sexes and all races. The next highest age group arrested involves people between 18 and 24 years old. The total percentage of clearance for recovered motor vehicles is only 17.15 percent. The low rate of clearance can be attributed to the nature of the crime, its volume, and the degree of difficulty in solving this particular crime.