U.S. Census Bureau personnel interview household members in a nationally represented sample of approximately 38,000 households. People are interviewed twice a year, so that approximately 136,000 interviews of persons age 12 or older are conducted annually. Households stay in the sample of three years. New households are rotated into the sample on an ongoing basis. The NCVS collects information on crimes suffered by individuals and households, whether or not those crimes were reported to law enforcement. It estimates the proportion of each crime type reported to law enforcement, and it summarizes that reasons that victims give for reporting or not reporting.
The survey was redesigned in 1993 to provide detailed information on the frequency and nature of the crimes of rape, sexual assault, personal robbery, aggravated and simple assault, household burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft. The survey provides information about victims, offenders, and the crimes.