Believe Crime Statistics at Your Own Peril



“Safest city in America!”

“Crime at lowest level since the 1950’s!”

Such headlines periodically appear in our media.  Some skeptics like me have pointed out that these numbers are simply the number of crimes reported to and documented by law enforcement, and as such do not represent a true picture of what may be going on in our communities.  For instance, how many domestic violence and other assaults, rapes, hit and runs, robberies and other crimes occur that are not reported to police?  Probably a lot, and they are not part of the headline grabbing statistics about crime.

Now there’s another reason to be skeptical. A recent Los Angeles Times investigative  story finds that the LAPD under-reported violent crimes by classifying nearly 1200 violent crimes as minor offenses!

Why would there be an agenda to under report crime?  Let me count a few ways:

  • Politicians want to take credit for low crime rates;
  • Law enforcement wants to take credit and be rewarded for it;
  • Voters are less likely to be afraid and angry;
  • Businesses will be attracted to locate there;
  • Realtors are better able to sell real estate (for instance, the OC Register reported in a story on Sunday, August 30 headlined “Chinese Homebuyers Seek Security” that Irvine is known in China to have a low crime rate and that is one reason wealthy Chinese are plunking down a million bucks or more in cash to buy new homes in Irvine).

Next time you see or hear about a story reporting the latest crime rate information, stop and think about  just how much of it you are willing to believe.  Shy away from drinking the Kool Aid dispensed by those in the Kool Aid business.

About Over But Not Out

A retired Orange County employee, and moderate Republican. The editor seriously does not know OBNO's identity as did not the former editor, but his point of view is obviously interesting and valued.