It's a theme I heard over and over and over throughout 2009. Money is tight, people are desperate, so naturally crime is up. Right? Well, according to this preliminary report from the FBI, it just ain't so. As a matter of fact, the FBI is reporting that violent crimes appear to be down by 4.4 percent during the first six months of 2009.
And even more surprising:
The number of property crimes in the United States from January to June of 2009 decreased 6.1 percent when compared with data from the same time period in 2008. Property crimes include burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft.
The numbers that jumped out to me were in regards to motor vehicle theft. Check out this table. According to this report, car theft is down nearly 20 percent across the board. How is that possible? We were just sitting here in the SSN and SDN newsroom speculating about how this could be, especially during a time of reported hardship. (Check out Sam's blog for his take on this report.) Here's some of our brainstorming:
1. Has the worth of metal and parts fallen so much that it's no longer worth stealing cars to sell the parts?
2. Is the market for stolen cars/parts just oversaturated?
3. Have the security systems in cars gotten so sophisticated that it makes it really hard to steal a car anymore (I see a commercial for onStar and GPS tracking developing here).
4. Has border security tightened up so much that it makes shipping parts out difficult?
That's the one I'm going with, if nothing more than wishful thinking backing me up. Frankly, I really can't wrap my head around why there was such a huge reduction in auto theft (and crime in general), especially in the face of a recession. Can you come up with a better explanation?