The cost of crime ripples through every community. Not only are there monetary costs, but emotional and physical costs. For some the cost of crime does not have a price tag.
Citizens pay taxes to cover for crime prevention, enforcement, prosecution, incarceration, support services, probation and parole and all the other amenities that government entails. Private insurance rates are partly determined by the amount of crime in the area. Higher crime equals higher insurance rates. Citizens absorb the cost of thefts from stores with higher prices on merchandise. Medical costs of crime add up quickly.
A victim of a crime loses more when their property has to be replaced, their time is taken into account and the emotional damage is tallied up. For some, the cost continues long after the initial damage is done. Just think what it would cost you if you went out to your car and found every window smashed out or if you came home and your house had been ransacked.
Dollar amounts estimated yearly for the cost of crime do not include crimes that are not reported. Estimates from the AARP for what people lost due to telephone scams were over 8 billion dollars in 2002, with the elderly being primary targets for these low life individuals. That money left this country and cost many their homes and retirements.
Here are a few other figures from 2003:
"Crime is estimated to create $105 billion in medical expenses, lost earnings, and costs for victim services. Factoring in the intangible costs, such as pain and suffering and a reduced quality of life, brings the total estimated cost of crime to $450 billion annually."
"In 2003, total monetary loss due to telemarketing fraud was $1,764,433, for an average of $1,504 for each case."
"Reported burglaries resulted in an estimated monetary loss of $3.5 billion, with an estimated average of $1,626 per burglary." (Crime Reports, 2007, p. 1)
These figures are actual loss, not costs for labor to repair the damage. Often values are lower than actual value as well. There are direct and indirect repercussions for everyone when this happens.
There are costs of crime that the public may never hear about. Budget concerns can restrict investigations often to the detriment of the case. The cost of obtaining expert witnesses for court testimony leads to negotiated plea bargains or dismissed charges. Evidence can not be processed properly due to costs. The list goes on and on.
It is possibly the emotional costs that wreck the most havoc. As an officer I can still point out every house, every street corner and every alley where blood was shed. Neighbors, friends and most of all families never are the same after a criminal tragedy. How do you put a price on a human life? On a body that has been beaten and raped? On a child that was left abandoned?
Media then heightens the pain and blasts it across the headlines for all. The sense of utter helplessness, and often fear, grips a hold like a vice clamp for some. The balancing act of the publics' right to know with the victims rights to heal is never easy and often ignored by those who profit from crime.
Crime is an invasion into everyone's life and pocketbook. Crime knows no social, racial, religion, age or gender it does not discriminate and neither does the cost.
Crime Reports. Cost of Crime. 2007. Retrieved on 2/26/09 from http://www.crimereportslive.com/cost_crime.php.