The Crimes That Keep Us Up at Night

Posted March 30th, 2017, by Dan Carman

How often do you worry about being mugged? How often do you worry about having your identity stolen? How often do you worry about having your car broken into?

Those are just a few of the questions that Gallup posed to Americans as part of their annual survey about our fears over crime. It provides insight into how we think about crime, and how many of our concerns are rooted in fear of personal attack. Here are the top five crimes most concerning to Americans:

  • 70 percent of Americans fear being the victim of identity theft.
  • 69 percent of Americans fear having credit card information they use at stores stolen by hackers.
  • 64 percent of Americans fear having their passwords, emails or electronic records hacked.
  • 43 percent of Americans fear having their home burglarized while they aren’t there.
  • 43 percent fear their car will be stolen or broken into.

Rounding out the bottom of the list is being assaulted or killed by a coworker (8 percent) and being murdered (18 percent).

Are the Numbers in Line with Actual Reported Crime?

In many ways, these fears reflect reality. For example, 17.6 million people in the United States (around 7 percent of the population) were victims of identity theft. More than 15 million people reported being victims of property crime, such as theft, burglary or vehicle theft. Around 3 million people ages 12 and older were victims of violent crime.

You are more likely to experience theft through electronic means or by having your identity stolen than you are to experience physical property theft, though not by a huge margin. You are more likely to experience either of those types of threats than you are to experience violent crime.

One question posed by Gallup centered not on the victimization of the respondents, but of their children. Roughly one-third of parents of school-aged children were worried about their child being physically harmed while attending school. The issue is an important one; around 60 percent of children experience violence, abuse or crime. This exposure occurs in the home, schools and communities across the United States.

Americans’ views on crime don’t always line up with the statistics, however. For example, in 2016, 57 percent of voters surveyed by Pew Research Center said they believed crime had increased in the United States since 2008. Yet, since that time, violent crime rates fell 19 percent and property crime rates fell 23 percent, per the FBI’s’ Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

The belief that crime is on the rise is a perennial view of Americans. Since 1989, Gallup has posed the question to Americans 22 times. Twenty-one of those times, more Americans said they believe crime had increased than those who said it had not. These perceptions are almost always in contrast to the official numbers from agencies within the Department of Justice.

If there is a takeaway from these numbers, it is likely that while we tend to see the country as becoming more dangerous, it has, in fact, become safer for most Americans. Of course, any amount of crime should concern us, especially if those worries prompt us to make ourselves and our loved ones safer.

If you (or a loved one) have been arrested in Kentucky or in the Lexington area in particular, call my office at (859) 685-1055 for a free consultation. Our lawyers specialize in helping defendants fight back on assault charges, misdemeanors, domestic violence, property crimes, drug charges and more, call today.

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