Clearance Sale – Burglary is a Loss Leader

The FBI has released its statistics on crime in the United States for 2007, always an interesting read for those struggling with career choices in uncertain economic times.  While the rates in general for 2007 show a decrease from the prior year, crime remains a strong industry compared with most other options in a declining economy.

So the natural question for a young man coming of age today, what’s the best career opportunity for me?

The stats clearly show that murder offers little to the up-and-coming criminal, particularly since most are committed against people they already know, meaning that the universe of future growth opportunities are limited.  Moreover, crimes of violence against others in general appear to have less appeal in 2007 than the year before, suggesting that anyone seeking a future in crime should steer away from acts of violence.

On the other hand, crimes against property are thriving.  But most importantly, the clearance rates for property crimes, and particularly burglaries (or home invasions as has become the fashion), is sitting at a spectacular low.


Percent of Crimes Cleared by Arrest or Exceptional Means in 2007

For less than half that of a robbery, and with significantly reduced operating costs, burglaries present enormous opportunity for the go-getter.  While some might think that motor vehicle theft offers similar benefits, it’s important to remember that it’s a crime on the decline, down 8.1% from 2006 and 13.1% from 2003, apparently as a result of high gasoline prices.  Remember, the cost of a getaway comes straight out of your pocket.

Of course, for the victims of property related offenses, the news is grim.  Chances are good that you won’t be able to get an officer to even talk to you about it, as our good friend Shawn Matlock found out when he decided to take a walk on the wild side while doing research in anticipation of being tapped to take the lead on crime policies for the Republican presidential candidate.

If you would like to read a more thoughtful discussion of the FBI statistics, Grits has parsed the numbers (and presented a terrific chart showing the FBI’s homage to watchmakers) in this post.

Since I’m of the view that these statistics are utterly meaningless, and are largely used as propaganda tool to demonstrate either what a fine job law enforcement is doing or to justify the need for massive increases in budget or manpower, I’m more inclined to consider this an invitation to young men and women select career alternatives.

4 comments on “Clearance Sale – Burglary is a Loss Leader

  1. Joel Rosenberg

    Where’s drug dealing? Whether one’s interested in being a, err, unregistered pharmacist or a PD that wants a cash transfusion, drugs are where the money is.

    Much of the time.

    That said, I have an amazing coincidence to report. While shutting down “grow houses” used to be a big deal locally, after a local sheriffs department found that it had seized (and now owned, thanks to RICO and such laws) several that were mortgaged at rather more than their present market value, the enthusiasm to find and shut those down seems to have lapsed a bit.

    I’m trying to figure out why that might be, but I just can’t work it out.

  2. Badtux

    I assume that drug dealing, like prostitution or gambling, is not on this because it is not a crime against persons. There is no victim to report the incident, thus no accurate means of tracking the incidence of drug dealing or prostitution or illegal gambling.

    Which brings up the question of why, if there is no victim, it is a crime, but that’s a question for another post.

  3. SHG

    Your half right.  It would be impossible, using the methodology employed by the FBI, to ascertain the occurence or clearance rates of crimes where there isn’t a discrete complaint.  But just because there isn’t a specific victim doesn’t mean it’s a victimless crime.  We all pay for some crimes.  And some truly have no victim.  And some cause harm under certain circumstances, but not others.  As with most things, the answer isn’t that simple.

  4. Badtux

    Indeed, as I noted in my entry, the discussion of crimes in which there is no immediate victim is worthy of an article in and of itself. For example, drunk driving is a crime, and it is a crime because of the significant probability of it causing a future victim. But you must admit that there are certain crimes today which exist solely due to political disgust with certain behaviors, rather than because there is any potential current or future victim. An example would be the Texas law prohibiting the sale of dildos. But we are leaving the realm of law, there, and entering the realm of politics, so this is perhaps not the best forum for such a discussion.

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