National Crime Information Center (NCIC)

The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) has been called the lifeline of law enforcement. It’s an electronic clearinghouse of crime data, such as mug shots and crime records, available to virtually every criminal justice agency nationwide.

NCIC helps criminal justice professionals:

  • find fugitives
  • locate missing people
  • recover stolen property
  • identify terrorists
  • perform other duties more safely

The FBI launched the NCIC in 1967. It started with five files and 356,784 records.

NCIC now has 21 files with more than 16 million active records. The NCIC averages millions of transactions each day.

Stock image depicting a police officer using a laptop computer in a police car.

About NCIC

How NCIC is Used

Criminal justice agencies enter records into NCIC. Those records are available to other law enforcement agencies nationwide. For example, an officer can search NCIC during a traffic stop. The system responds instantly and tells the officer if the vehicle is stolen or the driver is wanted.

A positive response from NCIC is not probable cause for an officer to take action. Agencies must verify the information is accurate and up to date before taking action.

Collaboration is Key

NCIC is a collaboration between the FBI and federal, state, local, and tribal criminal justice users. Users have input on NCIC policy through the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division's Advisory Policy Board.

Agencies must enter, modify, and remove their own records. The CJIS Division serves as the custodian of NCIC records.

Security and Quality Controls

NCIC policy establishes security measures to ensure the privacy and integrity of the data.

  • Information is encrypted to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Each user is authenticated to ensure proper access.
  • Each agency must regularly validate its records.
  • Agencies must have periodic audits to ensure data quality and adherence to all security rules.

NCIC Files

Property Files

There are seven property files have records of:

  • stolen articles
  • boats
  • guns
  • license plates
  • parts
  • securities
  • vehicles

Persons Files

There are 14 persons files including:

The system also contains images that can be matched with NCIC records to help identify people and property items. The Interstate Identification Index, which has automated criminal history record information, can be used through the same network as NCIC.

NCIC Missing Person and Unidentified Person Statistics 

Archived NCIC Missing Person and Unidentified Person Statistics: