Have you heard the theory “Most crime doesn’t make the news”? According to national statistics, every 22 seconds a violent crime occurs, varying from assault, to rape, to murder. Property crimes such as burglary, larceny, auto theft, and more occur every 3 seconds. That's over a million violent crimes and over 9 million property crimes per year.
Clearly, the media covers just a fraction of these events. Given today’s competitive market and the public’s need for instantaneous information, news outlets simply don't have the time to cover even a third of criminal events. Generally they focus on what sells; events like celebrity crimes, crimes of passion and high profile violent crimes.
As a former police officer, I have worked in some well respected neighborhoods that people consider “safe”. However, during my tenure, my eyes were routinely opened to what really happens in “safe” neighborhoods. While the vast majority of these events never made the news, they were nevertheless tragic and life changing for the victims.p>
My experience as a police officer and seeing firsthand what crimes are not reported on the news has changed my personal security posture from being nearly worry-free to being prepared. I know what streets to avoid, what hot-ticket items crooks are looking for, the methods that crooks are using, and the most likely timing for given crimes.
Today, serving in the security industry it's still my business to know current crime trends in order to counter them through technology. I'd like to share with you where I find this data in the hope that you too will be well informed and will take relevant precautions to secure your home.
Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics website
US Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigations
Every year the FBI compiles an extensive database of criminal activity through yearly, consistent surveys of law enforcement agencies nationwide.
The database is known as UCR, Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics. Beyond the dynamic reports, you can also find a library of summaries and guides to help you accurately interpret the data found in the UCR. Agencies nation wide rely on this report to gauge and prepare for crime in their regions.
Here are a few links to help you navigate quickly through their site:
- UCR homepage
- Dynamic report nationally and/or state by state
- Dynamic report by large local agencies (LA, NYC, Dayton, etc)
Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research
The ICPSR is part of the University of Michigan. They archive contributing factors of criminal activity including crime and social trends. Additionally, you will find a large index of completed analysis from universities and news organizations nation wide.
National Insurance Crime Bureau website
National Insurance Crime Bureau
Serving the mutual interest of customers and the insurance industry, the NICB provides a wealth of topical information about crime.
I have included the NICB because they also provide information about the forms of fraud such as vehicle cloning, disaster fraud and staged automobile accident fraud.
Whether the fraud is common or unique, affects us directly or indirectly; we all end up paying the tab for these crimes. Of course, seeking to minimize claims, you'll find great tips on how to avoid being a victim of crime and fraud.
View the theft and fraud awareness page.
Real-Time, Local Information
For my personal information, I like reviewing my local police department websites. These sites are becoming more webcentric by having great tools online for their communities such as crime maps, offender lists, wanted lists, related agencies websites. And, of course, they provide real-time information about recent criminal activity.
Progressive police departments understand that the more information they can get to you, the more empowered you'll be to protect yourself and potentially aid in crime prevention. As an example of what's available today, here is the Dallas PD's crime information site which includes a crime map.
I encourage you to be an investigator through these sources and the host of others available online. In doing so, you can not only inform yourself, but you can inform your friends, neighbors, and coworkers to increase crime awareness and undertake simple measures to keep yourself and others secure.