Everyone is bothered by crime. For the most part, people avoid thinking about depressing topics and crime is no different. Unlike your annoying boss or the barking dog next door, crime can’t be avoided. Nearly every person on the planet will be the victim of a crime at some point in their life, so it pays to be prepared. Learning these four crime stats won’t protect you from the inevitable but they can help you defend your home and family.
The U.S. Has More Crime than Any Other Nation
More crimes happen in the United States than any other country. Despite decreasing crime rates over the past 20 years, the U.S. is still combating crime rates that are much higher than other developed nations. While other countries have higher per capita crime rates, more burglaries, rapes, homicides, and assaults happen in America than any where else. In 2009, approximately 12 million crimes were committed in the U.S. No other country experienced more than 6 million crimes during the same year, including those with larger populations, like China and Russia. In total, nearly 1 in 5 Americans have been the victim of a major crime.
The United States is Home to 25 Percent of the World’s Prison Population
It might not be too surprising to learn the U.S. is home to almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners. The country does have more crime than any place else. However, this number is astonishing when compared to other nations. China, for example, has more than four times the population but has fewer total prisoners (including those held for political or “administrative” reasons). What is even more surprising is that most of America’s inmates were convicted of non-violent drug related offenses. Drug related convictions account for more than half of inmates in the federal detention system.
These statistics have become the source of major controversy as America’s prison system comes under increased scrutiny for its high cost and low impact on crime rates. The number of inmates is particularly galling when you consider this next fact…
The Majority of Major Crimes Go Unsolved
Solving a crime is a hard thing to do. To crack the simplest of cases, police usually deal unreliable witnesses, confusing evidence, and too many suspects. The unfortunate result is that, more often than not, many crimes go unsolved. An analysis of FBI statistics by the Scripps Howard News Agency showed that less than half of all murders in the U.S. were solved. There are even some parts of the country, like Phoenix or New Orleans, where a murderer has a greater than 50 percent chance of never being caught. Surprisingly, police in rural areas are statistically more efficient at solving homicides than their urban counterparts. This inability to solve crime is not limited to murders. In many jurisdictions, police have an equally poor track record solving major crimes, like rape and burglary.
A Small Group of People Commit More than 80 Percent of All Crime
In many poor and disadvantaged areas of the U.S., gangs are a fact of life. In recent years, however, many gangs have branched out beyond their usual hunting grounds. According to a survey of law enforcement professionals, gangs are now active in 58 percent of jurisdictions in America, compared to just 45 percent in 2004. Despite a higher profile, the country’s gang population is actually pretty low with numbers estimated at one million members. To give that number some perspective, the U.S. has approximately 310 million people.
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Most would see these statistics as good news. The gang member population is low and being spread out across wider geographic areas. This should mean a lower number of crimes committed by gang members in any given jurisdiction. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. These gangs simply expanded into areas without competing gangs. The end result has been an astonishing increase in the percentage of crimes committed by gang members. In 2009, law enforcement estimated that nearly 80 percent of all crime in the U.S. is committed by gang members.