Home NIBRS Developments in NIBRS 1999 Bulletins

1999 Bulletins

Developments in NIBRS

Note: The excerpts are presented as they were originally published in the UCR State Program Bulletin and therefore will include any additions, deletions, or clarifications released in subsequent bulletins. Readers are urged to read this document in its entirety before making any programming changes.

View 1999 State Program Bulletins by Topic:


UCR State Program Bulletin, January 27, 1999

Classification Clarification

Recently, an incident occurred in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in which two individuals became involved in a physical altercation. One of the individuals pulled a canister of mace from his pocket and sprayed his combatant in the face causing him severe discomfort. The victim fled the scene and sought medical attention which consisted of cleansing the affected area. The question is whether the use of mace against another person would constitute the offense of Aggravated Assault.

Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook specifically defines Aggravated Assault as “an unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. This type of assault usually is accompanied by the use of a weapon or by means likely to produce death or great bodily harm” (page 16).

Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, defines Mace as “Chemical liquid which, when sprayed in face of person, causes dizziness and immobilization” (page 950).

Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, defines Weapon as “An instrument of offensive or defensive combat, or anything used, or designed to be used, in destroying, defeating, threatening, or injuring a person” (page 1593).

Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook states, “on occasion, it is the practice of local jurisdictions to charge assailants in assault cases with assault and battery or simple assault even though a knife, gun, or other weapon was used in the incident. For Uniform Crime Reporting purposes, this type of assault is to be classified as aggravated” (emphasis added) (page 16).

Therefore, the correct classification for the scenario presented above would be Aggravated Assault because mace is considered a weapon.

Back to top

UCR State Program Bulletin 99-2, June 23, 1999

NIBRS Recommendations Adopted

The FBI is adopting five recommendations which were submitted and accepted through the CJIS Advisory Process concerning the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). The recommendations are directed toward easing implementation at the local level for agencies encountering difficulties complying with the full NIBRS requirements. Based upon the impact to their individual systems, state Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program managers may elect to adopt none, some, or all of the recommendations. Those agencies who opt to use the modifications can implement them on an agency-by-agency basis. Those agencies who choose to retain full NIBRS compliance need make no system changes. Following are the recommendations and the planned approaches to implementation.

Recommendation 1: Allow agencies to report as few as two (2) victim-to-offender relationships per victim.

Approach for Recommendation 1: NIBRS edits will be adjusted to permit recording of relationships for only two (2) offenders for each victim of crimes against persons or robbery. That is, reports showing three (3) or more offenders in the offender segment will be rejected only if fewer than two (2) relationships are reported for any victim. The requirement for information for all offenders, however, will be retained for the offender segment.

Should this method of reporting be adopted, reporting agencies should relate the two primary offenders for each victim. The choice of primary offenders should be based on their degree of involvement in the offense against the designated victim. Accomplices should be reported last even though they may be close relatives of the victims. The primary offenders may be different for each victim.

Recommendation 2: Allow agencies to impute the value of Location Type (Data Element 9) to individual offenses.

Recommendation 3: Allow agencies to impute the value of Bias Motivation (Data Element 8a) to individual offenses.

Recommendation 4: Allow agencies to impute the value of Offenders Suspected of Using (Data Element 8) to individual offenses.

Approach for Recommendations 2, 3, & 4: This is a policy clarification; therefore, no system changes to NIBRS are necessary. Reporting guidelines for NIBRS will be revised to allow imputing values for offenses from the incident. These recommendations address situations in which local records systems capture only one location or bias motivation per incident or those that capture offender alcohol/drug/computer usage only at the incident or offender level. In such situations, assigning the known value to each offense comprising an incident is permissible. Because illogical combinations can sometimes result from these types of imputations, agencies should be alert for invalid report values.

Recommendation 5: Allow agencies to treat the following Group A offenses as if they were Group B offenses, reporting only information on persons arrested (plus an incident number):

Drug/Narcotic Offenses

      • Drug/Narcotic Violations (35A) - Requires agencies to report Data Element 12, Type Criminal Activity, and Data Element 20, Drug Type.
      • Drug Equipment Violations (35B)

Gambling Offenses

      • Betting/Wagering (39A)
      • Operating/Promoting/Assisting Gambling (39B)
      • Gambling Equipment Violations (39C)
      • Sports Tampering (39D)

Pornography/Obscene Material (370)

Prostitution Offenses

      • Prostitution (40A)
      • Assisting or Promoting Prostitution (40B)

Weapon Law Violations (520)

Approach for Recommendation 5: A new segment level will be established to accommodate this recommendation which is intended to address Stand Alone Arrests unaccompanied by an offense report. The new segment, “S,” will be similar to the Time Window, or “W,” and will provide for reporting Stand Alone Arrests for the designated offenses. All of the designated offenses will require an arrestee segment plus an incident number. Drug/Narcotic Violations will also require Type Criminal Activity and Suspected Drug Type (Data Elements 12 and 20).

This approach will allow either submitting the entire Group A Incident Report or only the Stand Alone Arrest Report. The offenses will remain Group A offenses and the desired level of submission will be the complete Group A Incident Report.

The FBI will begin accepting NIBRS submissions in the modified format beginning January 1, 2000. Revised reporting guidelines and data submission specifications are forthcoming.

NIBRS Certification Process

In order for a state UCR Program to be certified for NIBRS data submission, the Program must be approved by the NIBRS Certification Board. The Board consists of representatives from the FBI’s Automated Operations Support Section; Crime Analysis, Research and Development Unit; Communications Unit; Education/Training Services Unit; and the Statistical Unit. The Board is required to review and approve particular elements of the state Program including system description/compatibility, error rates, statistical reasonableness, and the updating capability and responsiveness of the submitting state. In order to further ensure the statistical reasonableness of all test data being submitted for certification purposes, the Board has elected to employ the national UCR Program’s Quality Assurance Review (QAR) team to assist in this check.

In general, the mission of the QAR is to assess the validity of the reported data through the review of local agency case reports. Currently, the QAR team analyzes the reporting methods of local and state agencies to ensure uniform reporting through consistent application of the reporting guidelines for NIBRS and Summary data. Using the QAR team as a tool to assist in the NIBRS certification process will help to assure that the test data being submitted for certification are being classified and reported appropriately to the national UCR Program. It will also determine whether there are any discrepant reporting trends within the state Program. For further information regarding the QAR process, please contact the FBI’s QAR team at 304-625-2941.

Scoring UCR Offenses in NIBRS and Summary Systems

It has come to the attention of the national UCR Program that some law enforcement agencies who report to the Program are classifying crimes according to state statutes or local/municipal ordinances. It is understood that a local agency’s primary concern is to ensure that the individual who perpetrates a crime is properly charged under the appropriate local, state, or federal ordinances for adjudication purposes. Of secondary importance, however, is the classifying and scoring of crimes for UCR purposes. When the same agency reports crime information to the state or national UCR Program, strict adherence to the established UCR guidelines for crime data reporting should be followed in order to obtain uniformity of crime statistics among different states, as well as different local agencies within the same state.

Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook, NIBRS Edition, states, “The purpose for UCR, as developed by law enforcement, is to provide a ‘common denominator’ language which transcends varying local and state laws” (page 11).

Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook further stipulates, “The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program collects and reports crime offense data for the Nation . . . . Essential to the maintaining of uniform and consistent data is the utilization of standard definitions of the offenses used in the Program. . . .” (page 5).

Another concern of the national Program is local agencies who report UCR data based on the adjudication of the incident or the charge to which the prosecutor/district attorney plea bargained the case. Again, this type of information should not be considered when reporting crime data to the national UCR Program.

Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook, NIBRS Edition, states, “Law enforcement should classify and report offenses after preliminary confirmation of a call for service or a complaint establishes that a crime was, in fact, committed. Offenses known to law enforcement are to be recorded, not findings of a court, coroner, jury, or decision of a prosecutor since crime statistics generated from NIBRS are intended to assist in identifying law enforcement problems” (page 28).

NIBRS Motor Vehicle Theft, Fraud, and Embezzlement Offenses

Regarding NIBRS, it has come to the attention of the staff of the national UCR Program that there are differing opinions among reporting agencies regarding the reporting of the theft of motor vehicles and interpretations defining the differences between fraud and embezzlement.

There exists a misconception among some NIBRS contributors that in every incident in which a motor vehicle is unlawfully taken that an offense of 240 = Motor Vehicle Theft must be entered into an offense segment. Some vendors have created edits to this effect. The FBI has not created an edit to this effect as this assumption is not valid in all cases. Some examples demonstrating the error of this assumption are, but are not limited to, the following proper procedures:

  • For NIBRS purposes, the incidence of a carjacking is correctly reported as an offense of 120 = Robbery, and the type of vehicle taken (automobile, truck, etc.) is properly identified in the property description. The offense of 240 = Motor Vehicle Theft is not to be identified as an additional offense, as the motor vehicle that is stolen is the proceeds of the offense of robbery, and not a separate, distinct operation. Consequently, Data Element 18 Number of Stolen Motor Vehicles and Data Element 19 Number of Recovered Motor Vehicles are not used.

  • For NIBRS purposes, the incidence of a house that is burglarized and a motor vehicle being taken from the garage of that house is correctly reported as an offense of 220 = Burglary/Breaking & Entering, and the type of vehicle taken (automobile, truck, etc.) is properly identified in the property description. The offense of 240 = Motor Vehicle Theft is not to be identified as an additional offense, as the motor vehicle that is stolen is the proceeds of the offense of Burglary, and not a separate, distinct operation. Consequently, Data Element 18 Number of Stolen Motor Vehicles and Data Element 19 Number of Recovered Motor Vehicles are not used.

  • For NIBRS purposes, the incidence of an individual who test drives a new car from an automobile dealership and does not return it is correctly reported as a fraud offense of 26A = False Pretenses/Swindle/Confidence Game, and the type of vehicle taken (automobile, truck, etc.) is properly identified in the property description. The offense of 240 = Motor Vehicle Theft is not to be identified as an additional offense, as the motor vehicle that is stolen is the proceeds of the offense of Fraud, and not a separate, distinct operation.

  • For NIBRS purposes, the incidence of a chauffer that steals a car entrusted to his care is correctly reported as 270 = Embezzlement, and the type of vehicle taken (automobile, truck, etc.) is properly identified in the property description. The offense of 240 = Motor Vehicle Theft is not to be identified as an additional offense, as the motor vehicle that is stolen is the proceeds of the offense of Embezzlement, and not a separate, distinct operation.

The second issue deals with the differences between Fraud and Embezzlement. Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook, NIBRS Edition, defines fraud as “the intentional perversion of the truth for the purpose of inducing another person or other entity in reliance upon it to part with some thing of value or to surrender a legal right” (page 15). Fraud is achieved through deceit or lying. On the same page of that publication, embezzlement is defined as “the unlawful misappropriation by an offender to his/her own use or purpose of money, property, or some other thing of value entrusted to his/her care, custody, or control.” Generally, the victims of embezzlement offenses are businesses, financial institutions, etc. Blacks Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, provides further insight by specifying, “The elements of ‘offense’ are that there must be relationship such as that of employment or agency between the owner of the money and the defendant, the money alleged to have been embezzled must have come into the possession of defendant by virtue of that relationship and there must be an intentional and fraudulent appropriation or conversion of the money” (emphasis added) (page 522).

NIBRS Volume 3: Approaches to Implementing an Incident-Based Reporting System

As NIBRS is implemented in an increasing number of local and state law enforcement agencies nationwide, many software systems have been created for this data collection method. Currently, there are incident-based reporting systems developed by individual agency computer personnel, as well as those generated by software vendors, available to the NIBRS newcomer. Since there are so many different systems currently in place, the FBI’s UCR Program is considering phasing out NIBRS Volume 3: Approaches to Implementing an Incident-Based Reporting System. If the publication is phased out, the July 1, 1992, edition will be the last printing of Volume 3; it will not be reprinted once the current supply has been depleted. The FBI's UCR Program is soliciting feedback regarding the discontinuation of NIBRS Volume 3. Please send comments and concerns via facsimile to the FBI’s Communications Unit at 304-625-5394, by September 30, 1999.

NIBRS Error Oversight

NIBRS Volume 4: Error Message Manual did not contain error number 64. The following additions will be included in the Data Element Edit and Error Message sections in the upcoming revision of Volume 4.

41.1 ARREST SEGMENTS SUBMITTED AS “TIME-WINDOW” CANNOT ALREADY EXIST ON THE FBI'S DATABASE

Arrest Segments (Level 6) submitted with a Segment Action Type of W = Time-Window Submission will be added to the FBI’s database if not already on file. Submitting an Arrest Segment with the same ORI Number, Incident Number, and Arrestee Sequence Number (Data Element 40) will result in an “Arrestee Already on File” error message.
064 ARRESTEE ALREADY ON FILE

When an Arrest Segment is submitted with a Segment Action Type of W = Time-Window Submission, the identifying information (ORI Number, Incident Number, and Arrestee Sequence Number) must be unique. When error number 064 appears, an arrestee was already on file with this identifying information.


NIBRS Error Modification

Error number 480 on page 43 of NIBRS Volume 4 has been modified as follows:

7) When 08 = Other Felony Involved is entered, a minimum of two offenses must be entered for Data Element 6 (UCR Offense Code) or a minimum of two individual victims must be submitted for the incident.

The error message for error number 480 on page 116 of NIBRS Volume 4 has been modified as follows:

480 WHEN ASSAULT/HOMICIDE (31) IS 08, INCIDENT MUST HAVE TWO OR MORE OFFENSES

Data Element 31 (Aggravated Assault/Homicide Circumstances) has 08 = Other Felony Involved but the incident has only one offense. For this code to be used, there must be an “other felony.” Either multiple entries for Data Element 6 (UCR Offense Code) should have been submitted, or multiple individual victims should have been submitted for the incident report.


Back to top


UCR State Program Bulletin 99-3, December 22, 1999

NIBRS Property Description Code 19

Recently, South Carolina State UCR Program staff asked for clarification of the definition of Data Element 15, Property Description, code 19. According to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) Volume 1: Data Collection Guidelines, page 81, Property Description, code 19 equals Merchandise (items held for sale). Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, defines Merchandise as, “All goods which merchants usually buy and sell, whether at wholesale or retail; wares and commodities such as are ordinarily the objects of trade and commerce. But the term is generally not understood as including real estate, and is rarely applied to provisions such as are purchased day by day for immediate consumption” (page 986). This property description code is to be used when it is the most specific description for the property involved in an incident. In many cases, code 77 = Other is incorrectly used; code 19 = Merchandise would better describe the property involved.

The property description codes used in the following examples are listed in NIBRS Volume 1: Data Collection Guidelines, pages 80-82.

The shoplifting of a guitar from a music store is reported. In NIBRS, no specific value in the property description exists for a guitar or musical instrument. Since the guitar is an item held for sale, code 19 = Merchandise is the most specific descriptor. The code 77 = Other should not be used in this case, as its use is reserved for “all other property not fitting the above specific descriptions” (including merchandise).

The shoplifting of a set of windshield wipers from an auto parts store is reported. Even though the windshield wipers are merchandise or “items held for sale,” code 38 = Vehicle Parts/ Accessories should be used as the most specific property description.

Three guitars are reported stolen from the apartment of a musician. The code 77 = Other should be used in this case, as these guitars are “all other property not fitting the above descriptions.”

NIBRS Offense 250 Counterfeiting/Forgery

NIBRS Volume 1: Data Collection Guidelines defines Counterfeiting/Forgery (Crime Against Property) as “The altering, copying, or imitation of something, without authority or right, with the intent to deceive or defraud by passing the copy or thing altered or imitated as that which is original or genuine; or the selling, buying, or possession of an altered, copied, or imitated thing with the intent to deceive or defraud” (pages 24-25).

Problems arise in scoring Counterfeiting/Forgery offenses for UCR purposes when forged checks or counterfeited money are used to obtain items such as cash, groceries, stereo equipment, etc. NIBRS Volume 4: Error Message Manual, page 7, indicates that if the offense of Counterfeiting/Forgery is completed, the Type Property Loss/Etc. can only be code 3 = Counterfeited/Forged, code 5 = Recovered, or code 6 = Seized. Therefore, items that are obtained as the result of passing a forged or counterfeited instrument are not captured for statistical purposes.

Although Counterfeiting/Forgery offenses can involve elements of fraud, they are treated separately due to their unique nature. Therefore, when incidents involving the passing of a forged or counterfeited instrument to obtain items occur, an additional offense should accompany the Counterfeiting/Forgery to allow the capture of the fraudulently obtained items.

Example: A lone male enters the Sears department store to purchase a $400 TV and $300 VCR (retail value) with a forged check. Later, the store manager was notified that the purchase was made with a forged check. The manager then summoned the police to file a report. The incident should be reported as Offense Code 250 = Counterfeiting/Forgery; Type Property Loss/Etc., code 3 = Counterfeited/Forged; Property Description, code 22 = Nonnegotiable Instruments (no value). Additionally, Offense Code 26A = False Pretenses/Swindle/Confidence Game; Type Property Loss/Etc., code 7 = Stolen/Etc.; Property Description, code 26 = Radios/ TV/VCRs; Value of Property, $550 (wholesale value) should be reported.

Responses to Questions Raised at the October 3-7, 1999, Association of State Uniform Crime Reporting Programs Conference

Reporting Crimes in Correctional Facilities

Are crimes in correctional facilities currently being reported, should they be reported, and, if so, which agency should do the reporting?

Crimes that occur in correctional facilities, state penitentiaries, prisons, or jails should be reported by the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction.

Concerning jurisdiction, the Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook states, “To be certain that an offense or arrest is not counted more than once by overlapping jurisdictions, the following guidelines have been developed:

  • Police report offenses that occur within their city jurisdiction.

  • County and state law enforcement agencies report offenses which take place in the county outside the jurisdiction of the city.

  • Agencies report only those arrests made for offenses committed within their own jurisdictions.

  • Likewise, the recovery of property is reported only by the jurisdiction from which it was stolen.

Note: The purpose of these jurisdictional guidelines for reporting crime statistics is to accurately depict the nature and volume of crime in a particular community, not to claim or take ‘credit’ for the number of investigations, arrests, etc.” (page 3).

As part of our caution to data users against making simplistic or incomplete analyses of UCR crime data, the following caveat will be amended in the 1999 edition of Crime in the United States, under “Crime Factors”: “Understanding a jurisdiction’s industrial/economic base, its dependence upon neighboring jurisdictions, its transportation system, its economic dependence on nonresidents (such as tourists and convention attendees), its proximity to military installations, correctional facilities, state penitentiaries, prisons, jails, etc., all contribute to accurately gauging and interpreting the crime known to and reported by law enforcement” (page iv). The information in bold lettering will appear for the first time in the 1999 edition.

NIBRS Data Element 13

Should an edit be added for Data Element 13, Type Weapon/Force Involved, to alleviate the problem of some agencies entering code 99 = None rather than code 40 = Personal Weapons for incidents in which the offender uses hands, fists, feet, teeth, etc., in the commission of an Aggravated Assault (13A)? Concern for this issue stems from situations similar to the following example:

A boyfriend places both hands around his girlfriend’s neck and begins to choke her while he screams, “I’ll kill you.” The police respond and pull the male off the female and place him under arrest. The female has red marks on her neck. The Type Weapon/Force Involved is erroneously coded as 99 = None when it should have been coded as 40 = Personal Weapons.

Since the misuse of codes does not appear to be a widespread problem, the Education/Training Services (ETSU) Unit and the Crime Analysis, Research and Development (CARD) Unit feel that an edit is not warranted at this time. Rather than adding an edit, ETSU and CARD Unit members encourage agencies to address this issue in training sessions at the state and agency levels, focusing on the use of hands, fists, feet, teeth, etc., as actual weapons.

A review of the 1998 NIBRS data (total incidents) revealed the following:

Incidents that contained code 99 = None (4.7 percent)

Incidents that contained code 95 = Unknown (2.84 percent)

Incidents that contained code 40 = Personal Weapons (i.e., hands, feet, teeth, etc.) (27.08 percent)

The ETSU and CARD Unit will continue to monitor data submissions within the Aggravated Assault category for statistical reasonableness. Agency personnel may refer to NIBRS Volume 1: Data Collection Guidelines, page 78, for a complete list of allowable entries for Data Element 13, Type Weapon/Force Involved.

Incidental Damage

Should incidental damage be considered when it occurs in conjunction with other reported offenses, specifically, Larceny/Theft?

The Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook, NIBRS Edition, under the category of Destruction/ Damage/Vandalism of Property, states, “Incidental damage resulting from another offense (e.g., burglary, robbery) is to be reported in this offense category only if the reporting agency deems the amount of damage to be substantial. For example, ‘insubstantial’ damage, such as a broken window, forced door, etc., should not be reported; but, ‘substantial’ damage, such as where a truck is backed into a store front to gain admittance and major structural damage is caused, should be reported. For the crime of arson, however, incidental damage resulting from fighting the fire should be included as part of the loss caused by burning. The determination of whether the damage was ‘substantial’ is left to the discretion of the reporting law enforcement agency and should not require burdensome damage assessments” (page 14).

When reporting incidental damage in NIBRS, Destruction/Damage/Vandalism of Property should be reported in conjunction with Larceny/Theft. For example, a vehicle is entered by means of smashing the passenger side window and $10 in currency is stolen. In reporting the offense of Destruction/ Damage/Vandalism of Property, the Property Description code should be 38 = Vehicle Parts/ Accessories and the Value of Property should be $50 for the damaged window. Additionally, for the offense of Larceny/Theft, the Property Description code should be 20 = Money (legal tender, i.e., coins and paper currency) and the Value of Property should be $10. However, when the FBI converts the NIBRS data to summary data, the damaged property is ignored in determining the value of stolen property.

Reporting Bomb Threats

For UCR purposes, what is the proper classification of a bomb threat (as opposed to the actual presence of a bomb), and how should a bomb threat be reported using NIBRS?

Some agencies may misconstrue a bomb threat to be a crime against property, using the rationale that the intent is to blow up a building. However, for UCR purposes a bomb threat is actually a crime against a person because the intent is intimidation and a building (structure) cannot logically be intimidated. For agencies using NIBRS, at least one entry of I = Individual is required as the Type of Victim in the victim segment of the Group A Incident Report. The national Program requires reporting the person who received the bomb threat as the victim. It is left to the agency’s discretion as to how many individual victims (up to 999) are reported.

Example: While at work, a white female secretary, aged 45, of an elementary school receives a bomb threat over the telephone. Approximately 400 faculty and students are evacuated from the school. A search conducted by the bomb squad yields negative results. The faculty and students return to their classrooms after an hour.

The national Program requires that this situation be reported as Offense Code 13C = Intimidation; Location Type, code 22 = School/College; Victim Sequence Number, 001 for one victim; Victim Connected to UCR Offense Code, 13C for Intimidation; Type of Victim, code I = Individual; Age of Victim, 45; Sex of Victim, code F = Female; Race of Victim, code W = White; and other applicable data elements and values. Any additional individual-type victims (up to 999) may be reported at an agency’s discretion, i.e., for the purpose of providing data to make possible special studies, such as violence against children, etc.

It must be understood that any additional individual-type victims reported will be counted in the agency’s overall Assault total when the NIBRS data are converted to summary data. The new summary Assault total will not, however, inflate the Aggravated Assault total because the conversion process does not affect that specific offense.

Back to top