While crime has generally followed a downward trend in recent years, the percentage of violent crimes has increased. And where crime exists, so do criminals.

Whether you’re at school, the grocery store, a concert, or a sporting event, there’s a high likelihood that at least one perpetrator is nearby. On any given day, you could encounter anywhere from one to 1,000 criminals, depending on the space you’re sharing. Crime is alive and well in America, and it may be closer than you think.

Using the 100 People Project as our inspiration, we converted the U.S. population into stadium-sized samples to see just how many criminals and victims would be in our midst at a large public venue. Continue reading to see what we found.  

A Stadium of Thieves

Larceny, burglary and robbery are three similar terms that are commonly confused with one another.  Burglary refers to the breaking and entering of a structure with the intent to commit a crime inside, robbery is a crime in which a person uses violence or the threat of violence to take someone else’s belongings, and larceny (theft), means to take someone else’s property without the owner’s consent.  Larceny made up nearly 70 percent of all property crimes in 2015, and goods stolen out of vehicles made up roughly a quarter of that figure. Additionally, around $5 billion was lost in the U.S. due to motor vehicle thefts.

 If the U.S. population could fit in a stadium of 50,000 people, there would be over 1,000 perpetrators of property crimes, and 888 of them would be larcenists. Additionally, 110 of the property criminals would be those responsible for motor vehicle thefts, accounting for over $770,000 in property loss. Of the 51 robbers who would be in attendance, 21 would use firearms, and another 22 would strong-arm the victim out of their possessions.

Violent Criminals on the Offense


As the makeup of the crowd shows, nearly 64 percent of violent crimes reported in 2015 were aggravated assault. If the U.S. population could fit into a stadium of 50,000 people, close to 40 of the 119 assault perpetrators would use clubs, blunt objects, or other non-sharp items. About 29 would use firearms, while another 30 or so would use their hands and feet to assault a person. The remainder would use knives and other sharp objects.

Compared to 2014, there were 6 percent more rapes and around 11 percent more murders in 2015. Of the 19 rapists in our sample, approximately 12 would have chosen someone they knew as a victim. It’s also likely the two murderers in our sample would have used firearms: Handguns are used in the majority of murders, even though many of these murders take place in areas with established gun laws.

It’s also very likely that one of the murders would have been the result of an argument between acquaintances.

Pickpocketing Property

If the U.S. population could fit into a stadium of 50,000 people, the total value of the property stolen would be just shy of $2 million. Stolen cars would make up nearly 37 percent of that number, and miscellaneous items would make up another 27 percent. Furthermore, cash would comprise 9 percent of that figure. Unfortunately, the recovery rate for everything aside from motor vehicles would be be dismally low, leaving an almost estimated $1.5 million worth of goods unrecovered.

In 2015, the dollar amount of stolen property equaled an astounding $12.4 billion. Vehicle thefts accounted for about 37 percent of these losses, while jewelry and cash made up another 20 percent.  Jewelry is hard to trace and easy to pawn, and cash is basically untraceable. Firearms, which are often stolen from homes or cars, are also a relatively high-value target item.

Home burglaries resulted in property losses of about $2,300 each in 2015 (and most of these happened without a security system installed), and the figure is similar for non-residential burglaries. Pickpocketing and purse snatching – the theft of cash or other personal valuables from a person without their knowledge – also averaged around $600 per case and had relatively low recovery rates. While cars are one of the most valuable things to steal, they had a recovery rate of almost 60 percent .

Bad Apples

Socio-economic factors play a significant role in whether a child will become a young offender. Juveniles with impoverished families are more likely to be involved in crime at an early age. If the U.S. adolescent population averaged out to 10,000 people, 20 would be convicted for theft crimes. Adolescents from broken or abusive homes, who have poor supervision and harsh discipline, are more likely to offend as well. However, supportive relationships, positive reinforcement, reasonable criticism, and a group of friends who exhibit ordinary behavior may help stave off young criminals.

While young people make up a markedly less significant percentage of criminal offenders – and the rate of juvenile crime is declining – adolescent crime is still worth looking at given that 52 to 57 percent of juvenile lawbreakers will go on to become adult offenders. One explanation for juvenile criminality is that the frontal lobe doesn’t finish developing until early adulthood, so adolescents are prone to making impulsive, brash decisions at times without fully considering the consequences.

It’s also a commonly held belief that children mimic what they see in the world – in a sample of 10,000, 6,000 children will witness violence at some point in their early lives, and as many as 4,000 will be affected by physical violence on two or more occasions. Fortunately, less than six percent of juvenile offenses in 2015 were violent. However, many children might suffer long-term psychological trauma from these experiences, which could contribute to the development of other criminal behavior.

Victims of Crime


The rate of violent crime increased from 2014 to 2015, which, unfortunately, means you are more likely to encounter someone who has been recently victimized. If the U.S. population could fit in a stadium of 50,000 people, nearly 1,000 would be victim to rape, sexual assault, robbery, or domestic violence. However, half of victims of violent crime do not report their case to the police.

Sadly, many victims of violent crime are targeted by someone they know or have a close relationship with. Of the 67 instances of rape or sexual assault, 40 people would likely be victimized by someone they had an intimate relationship with.

Conclusion

Petty thieves and violent criminals walk the same streets as you every day. Some of our possessions are high-value targets to criminals, and some of our friends have been victims of crime. While crime isn’t something we think about on a day-to-day basis, it’s important to keep in mind the probability of encountering a criminal – not be anxious, afraid, or judgmental, but to make sure your belongings are always secure and that you are always safe, prepared, and protected.  

Methodology

To determine the amount of criminals that would be in attendance at these venues, we used FBI criminal data to relate the total number of criminals in each category to the US population. We then condensed the population to the size of a large public venue, to see how many criminals would be present relative to the population.

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