Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Where is the crime wave? A critical analysis of the FBI Crime Report Data Released Today

From my book, Economic Misery and Crime Waves (2009), since 1954, EVERY sharp economic contraction has been followed by a crime wave, typically within one year. The sharp contraction occurred on with the fall of the housing of Lehman Brothers on 9/15/2008; that was the tipping point. Since that time the market has slid into a deep recession. Yet law makers, criminologists, and news makers now ask -- is this time different? Where is the crime wave?

If you follow my analysis, the crime wave will be first noticeable in Q4 2009 data.

However, the FBI did not release Q4 2009 data today. Rather, they released aggregated annual data that blends the results for the full year. The FBI recently released aggregate data for 2009 crime show that there was a decrease in violent crime of -5.5%, and a decrease in property crime of 4.9%.

What was not stated was that there was an increase in property crime in the 4th Quarter -- as the data were not broken out by month or quarter -- only annualized data. However, analyzing the FBI's own press release showing the first six months of the 2009 (Q1 and Q2) one can observe the following:

UCR Crime Type Q1+Q2 2009 >>> Q1+Q2+Q3+Q4 2009

Violent Crime -4.4% ->>> -5.5% Analysis ->> continued decreases in violent crime
Property Crime -6.1% ->>> -4.9% Analysis ->> property crime rising Q4-09

What caused the decrease in benefits of crime rate from -6.1% down to -4.9%?
Answer: rising property crime in the 4th Quarter 2009 -- consistent with the crime wave theory. The data will come out in time, but for now it is important to know that there was an increase, and the increase in property crime is likely to spill into 2010. More on this later.

It is significant that crime is down and that the crime wave is apparently forestalled in arrival. What could explain this? For starters, from 1929-1933, the US government implemented individual measures, non-simultaneous, to abate the financial crises, and the efforts were deemed too little, too late, and economic misery increased along with skyrocketing unemployment and economic misery. One of the lessons learned from this period was that there was a need for social insurance -- unemployment benefits, supports, etc. Another lesson was to move in a coordinated and deliberate manner to combat the conditions create economic misery and foster crime waves; what did the government do this time around that was not available in the 1930s;

- Insurance on bank deposits; not available in the 1930s, and expanded to $250,000 per account in the 2nd Great Recession.

- Social insurance -- such as unemployment insurance benefits provided now, with increasing, or lengthening benefits in the 2nd Great Recession.

- Government stimulus to the economy; including bank bail out; automotive industry bail out; mortgage purchasing by federal reserve; low (nearly free) money cost to banks in recovery mode.

- Coordinated international effort to stave off economic collapse.

These items, and many more, have served to change the macroeconomic conditions that fostered the great crime wave during the Great Depression. The question however, in the condition of prolonged economic misery, long-term unemployment, federal-state-and-local government budget deficits -- how long can the government continue to pay-forward for supports that will ultimately need to be repaid. The recent Greek and European debt crisis will likely have contagion and reach back to us here in the USA, and our debts are mammoth, far more than the Greece, Ireland, Spain, or Portugal financial problems.

As evidenced on this blog site -- there is mounting evidence reported in pockets globally of increases in crime that are at first anecdotal, that when reported, will show that a crime wave is emerging.

During the 1930s, great political effort was made to control public opinion and shape opinion to redirect attention to other crimes, thus lowering public perception of crime. I found it ironic that in today's FBI press release and comments that "targeting habitual offenders" was a strategy attributed to the crime decreases -- and this is a strategy right out of the Great Depression crime wave -- detailed in Economic Misery and Crime Waves (2009).

Another issue that received NO attention today in the FBI press release was Fraud. Fraud, organized retail crime, and other property crimes are on the rise -- but not reported in the public statements today.

It is my supposition that the FBI crime data underreports the impact of major frauds, and undetected frauds. For example, the Madoff ($50 billion) and Sanford ($7 billion) frauds sum over $57 billion in fraud, but will account for several dozen fraud counts; these counts will not appear to be out of the ordinary when blended with other data of frauds for $400, $2000, etc. These cases are not the same, yet they are reported categorically as fraud.

I am comfortable in my forecast that we will indeed experience a crime wave, and the evidences of the rising tide of crime are evident in the data -- but not the data released today by the FBI.

This will of course be an issue to track in the coming weeks, months, and years.

FBI Preliminary Crime Reports Show 5.5% Decrease in violent crime; 4.9% Decrease in Property Crime

Press Release

For Immediate Release
May 24, 2010

Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691

FBI Releases Preliminary Annual Crime Statistics for 2009

Preliminary 2009 statistics indicate that violent crime in the nation decreased 5.5 percent and property crime declined 4.9 percent when compared with data from 2008, according to the FBI’s Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report, which was released today. Data in the report came from 13,237 law enforcement agencies that submitted six to 12 months of data in both 2008 and 2009.

Violent Crime

  • All four violent crime offenses—murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault—declined nationwide in 2009 when compared with 2008 data. Robbery dropped 8.1 percent, murder decreased 7.2 percent, aggravated assault declined 4.2 percent, and forcible rape decreased 3.1 percent.
  • Violent crime fell in all city groupings. The largest decrease, 7.5 percent, was in cities with populations ranging from 500,000 to 999,999 inhabitants. Violent crime declined 4.0 percent in the nation’s metropolitan counties and 3.0 percent in nonmetropolitan counties.
  • Cities with 25,000 to 49,999 inhabitants were the only city population group to report an increase in the number of murders, 5.3 percent. The number of murders in the nation’s nonmetropolitan counties also rose, 1.8 percent.
  • Forcible rape trends dropped in all city population groups. The largest decrease was 7.3 percent in cities of less than 10,000 residents. Metropolitan counties reported a 3.7 percent decline in the number of rapes, but the number of rapes reported in nonmetropolitan counties rose slightly, 0.3 percent.
  • All population groups reported decreases in the volume of robbery in 2009. Of the city groups, cities with populations of 100,000 to 249,999 had the largest decrease at 10.3 percent. Metropolitan counties reported a 6.7 percent drop in robberies; nonmetropolitan counties reported a 0.7 percent decline.
  • The number of aggravated assaults declined in all population groups, with cities of 500,000 to 999,999 inhabitants reporting a 6.3 percent decrease. Aggravated assaults declined 3.7 percent in nonmetropolitan counties and 3.0 percent in metropolitan counties.
  • All four regions in the nation showed decreases in violent crime in 2009 when compared with data from 2008. Violent crime decreased 6.6 percent in the South, 5.6 percent in the West, 4.6 percent in the Midwest, and 3.5 percent in the Northeast.

Property Crime

  • All property crime offenses—burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft—decreased in 2009 when compared with 2008 data. Motor vehicle theft showed the largest drop in volume at 17.2 percent, larceny-thefts declined 4.2 percent, and burglaries decreased 1.7 percent.
  • The nation’s largest cities, one million or more inhabitants, reported the greatest decrease, 7.9 percent, in property crime overall. Of the city groupings, this population group also reported the biggest decreases in the offenses that comprise property crime: a 21.1 percent drop in motor vehicle theft, a 5.7 percent decline in burglary, and a 5.5 percent decrease in larceny-theft. In the nation’s nonmetropolitan counties, larceny-thefts fell 9.5 percent; in metropolitan counties, larceny-thefts declined 5.9 percent.
  • The only population group to indicate a rise in any type of property crime was in nonmetropolitan counties, where burglary rose 0.5 percent.
  • In comparing 2008 data and 2009 data by region, law enforcement agencies in the West reported the biggest decline in property crime, with a decrease of 6.8 percent. Property crime declined 5.6 percent in the Midwest, 5.3 percent in the Northeast, and 3.2 percent in the South.


  • Arson offenses, which are tracked separately from other property crimes, declined 10.4 percent nationwide. All population groups reported decreases in the volume of arson offenses. In addition, arson fell in all four of the nation’s regions: 11.6 percent in the West, 10.6 percent in the South, 9.2 percent in the Midwest, and 8.6 percent in the Northeast.

The complete 2009 Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report is available exclusively at www.fbi.gov/ucr/prelimsem2009/index.html.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rural crime reports rising - missing sheep, bees, fuel, and machines

In the UK, Rising meat prices have been blamed by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) for an increase in sheep rustling, with hundreds of animals stolen around the country this year. In the most recent incident, a flock of 271 sheep, worth up to £25,000, was taken from a field in Ramsbottom, near Bury, Lancashire on May 13. Read more in the article link.

Crime against farmers has risen, following a dip two years ago, and covers everything from siphoning fuel from combine harvesters to stealing bees, according to a report in The Guardian.

Tim Price of NFU Mutual insurance, said one recent claim involved 18 hives and 800,000 bees worth £6,000 missing from a farm in rural Shropshire.

He told the newspaper: "Crime adjusts to whatever is currently valuable. Farmers' quad bikes, for instance, are a new target, and there's evidence that good police work against thieves stealing luxury cars has driven them to target tractors instead.

“We're talking about machines worth £100,000 in some cases, which is every bit as tempting as a Ferrari.

Related Articles

Increasing crime in rural areas is predicted in Economic Misery and Crime Waves

Friday, May 21, 2010

Is this news?: Man with drug addiction robs to obtain cash

The following article appeared in the Niagara Gazette on 5/14/2010. The article shows how individuals can be a one-man crime wave. At issue, a man was let out of a drug rehabilitation program -- and with no job -- he immediately went out on a two-day crime spree robbing others before he was finally caught, and re-incarcerated this time at the jail house. This looks like a simple case of a man seeking money for drugs -- but there may be something else going on here to consider? With no job, no income, and no place to go -- is it surprising that a personal with criminal tendencies would return to crime? While he used a gun, he appeared to be a "pleasant" offender, asking his victims to just obey so he did not need to pull out his gun. Perhaps this speaks more about the transitional hand-off of a person re-entering society. Can you really just open the doors of the prison or drug-treatment center and expect individuals to function as normal law abiding citizens in an era of tight employment and economic hardship? Just asking questions. Now read the article and form your own opinions.

# # #

May 14, 2010

Drugs blamed for wave of crime

NIAGARA FALLS — A man who single-handedly staged a South End crime wave from Wednesday night through Thursday morning, went on his rampage just hours after leaving a drug treatment program.

Lawrence Colvin, 29, no permanent address, had been released on his own recognizance from the Falls City jail, where he was being held on charges stemming from a violent robbery and burglary, on Wednesday afternoon. By early Wednesday evening, he had walked out of a residential drug treatment facility.

Sources tell the Gazette Colvin spent just two hours at the facility before heading off to commit a series of robberies where he claimed to be armed with a gun.

The first holdup took place at 11:39 p.m. at gas station in the 500 block of Main Street. After waiting for customers in the station to leave, Colvin approached a clerk with a handwritten note and demanded cash.

Colvin indicated he had a gun and told the clerk, “Don’t act stupid.”

Four hours later, Colvin walked into a motel in the 400 block of Main Street and told a night auditor, “I have to rob you.”

“I said, ‘Are you serious?’,” the auditor told Falls police detectives. “He said, ‘I have a gun. Don’t make me show it to you.’”

Colvin grabbed an undisclosed amount of cash and fled.

Some three hours after that. Colvin entered a convenience store in the 400 block of Niagara Street and, again, waited for other customers to leave. He then walked up to the clerk and handed her a note demanding cash.

The clerk said Colvin had his hand on his hip “as if he had a gun.”

By late Thursday afternoon, Falls police cornered Colvin in a home at 440 Fourth St. and were able to take him into custody after a brief stand-off with the department’s Emergency Response Team.

“We got information that he was dropped off here,” Capt. David LeGault said. “His plan, apparently, was to hide out here until dark and go out and start robbing again.”

Colvin was arrested April 24, after he tried to break into a convenience store in the 600 block of Pine Avenue. The break-in was interrupted when a store clerk arrived for work and Colvin then forced her to give him money from the store’s cash register.

At the time of that arrest, Colvin said he had “a real bad addiction” to crack cocaine. On Thursday night, Colvin told investigators, “I remember robbing the gas station and (the convenience store) on Fourth and Niagara streets. I’m on drugs real bad and all (expletive) up.”

He has been charged with one count of first-degree robbery, two counts of third-degree robbery and three counts of petit larceny. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges during an arraignment Friday in Falls City Court.

Colvin is being held without bail, pending a preliminary hearing on Wednesday.

Crime Spree in Fayettte

One of the aspects of a crime wave is that you know it has arrived when it achieves public attention. Consider the following news report from Fayette.

Local ABC Channel 11 reports,

Fayetteville police are asking the public for help in solving a rash of break-ins and burglaries.

Investigators say they have a narrow time span for the crime wave from early April to Wednesday, but they're not ruling out any cases before then.

In the meantime, some residents worry the police aren't moving fast enough.

"It's my kids and I worry about their safety and I'm mad as hell cause it's my house," burglary victim Taniesha Wright said.

Wright and her neighbors say they are fed up with the rash of burglaries in their neighborhood.

Detroit Mayor Perplexed by Crime Wave; Need Suggestions?

One of the epicenters of economic misery is Detroit, Michigan.

It should not be surprising therefore that Detroit is experiencing a crime wave. What is of greater concern is that the city Mayor, David Bing, reports that he is perplexed, and does not know what to do about it?! The Mayor has described crime in the city as "demoralizing." Where is the leadership and vision?

Need some ideas? Read Chapters 5 and 6 in Severin Sorensen, CPP, Economic Misery and Crime Waves (2009) for some concrete recommendations.

It appears that the city leadership is in need of a strategy. I strongly suggest adopting a posture of crime opportunity blocking. Situational Crime Prevention is an opportunity blocking strategy that seeks to:

1. increase the effort needed to commit crime at specific places;
2. increase the risk associated with crime at specific places;
3. reduce the rewards for crimes committed at specific places;
4. remove excuses for non-performance, non-cooperation, and even
loitering at specific places, thereby blocking opportunity crimes; in
some cultures, this might include shaming to discourage participation in
crime, or encourage positive behavior.

There is more, but getting started here will set them on the right direction.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Used Car Auto Sales Fraud Proliferates -- the phantom escrow scam

If anything is too good to be true --- it generally is not true. Purchase a $25k automobile for $9800 -- not a chance.

Frauds have existed for many years but it seems that new technologies, greed, and just ingenuity on the part of fraudsters keep the public guessing and at risk. Furthermore, it may be that hard economic times create pressures on many to find better deals, cheaper prices, and to chase the unbelievable.

I was recently in the market for a replacement vehicle and I considered purchasing a 2007 Chevy Tahoe LTZ with 4x4 and loaded options. I searched the online sites and found several attractively priced automobiles -- with much lower than market pricing. The only catch, the seller would not allow inspection of the vehicle and wanted money to be sent to a 3rd party escrow agent -- using some reported "ebay motors" escrow process -- the only thing is that Ebay does not offer such service. So I decided to check further and found this interesting article highlighting the typical escrow scam; http://theautoprophet.blogspot.com/2008/10/new-ebay-motors-scam.html

Take for instance this current ad posted at http://atlanta.craigslist.org/wat/pts/1735726456.html that reports to sell a 2007 Chevy Tahoe LTZ with 70,000 miles for $9800. The seller presents a somewhat believable story that he is in the military and heading overseas in a few weeks and he has decided to sell his car quickly. Here is the problem however, if the seller were really in need of cash -- he should take the vehicle to Carmax immediately and get average trade-in and get $25k with ease. This should send warning bells off to anyone -- it is illogical, and foolish.

And now to protect you the public from this scam and scammer I relate the following particulars of this particular scam, and communications from the scam seller to me (a potential buyer). The seller represents himself as James Roberson -- and this is indeed a pun as James indeed seeks to Rob me and my sons of my hard earned monies.

# # #

James Roberson

Mr. Roberson writes,

"My time is limited and as much as I'd like to meet you and close the deal in person or sell it locally, this is impossible for me. That's why I have decided to sell the car over the Internet."

The sale will be managed through eBay under their Vehicle Purchase Protection program since they offer the highest rate of safety and reliability during online transactions. They act as a neutral third party. I will briefly describe the Vehicle Purchase Protection Program transaction steps so I can make things clear for both of us:

1. Buyer and seller reach an agreement (price and delivery conditions)
2. Buyer sends money to an eBay Motors Agent.
3. eBay Motors confirm to seller that the amount has been received.
4. Seller performs the required services (shipping, insurance).
5. Buyer accepts delivery and informs eBay Motors about the acceptance.
6. eBay Motors release the money to seller.

They will hold and insure your money until you will receive and test the car.

I need your full name and shipping address so I can reserve the car for you and register the transaction with eBay and they will contact you with all the instructions step by step on how to complete the transaction.
VIN 1GNFK13007R220368

Here is what I find wrong with the above --
(1) This is a typical automobile escrow scam;
(2) Ebay motors does not provide an escrow service;
(3) The money transfers from your hands before you inspect the goods or title transfers;
(4) The proposed 3rd party unnamed dealer is unknown
(5) The seller refused to allow site inspection of the vehicle before the sale;
(6) The seller refused to meet the buyer at a neutral location such as a branch of a national bank in his area where a notary public, bona fide cashiers checks could be made and presented.
(7) The seller could or would not provide an opportunity to validate the title prior to money transfer; if the above vehicle were totaled and had a salvage title, it would be possible that it was just a shell and not operational.
(8) The VIN number provided is likely a valid number, however the background in the photos is not consistent with the sellers area, and looks more like Asheville, NC rather than Pensacola FL or Atlanta where the ads were posted.

So let this be a lesson to you, and beware -- if a deal looks to good -- it is to good -- and run, not walk away from the temptation.

In closing, here is some sage advice from another on this same topic: http://www.carbuyingtips.com/used.htm

Do Not Buy That Used Car If.....
These are the top mistakes made by used car buyers. Don't let this happen to you!
  • The 17 digit VIN#'s on the door, hood, engine, dashboard do not all match exactly
  • You failed to have a mechanic check out the car on a lift
  • You did not run the Experian AutoCheck Vehicle History Reports on the car's VIN# prior to purchasing
  • The title still shows a lien holder with no "Lien Satisfied" stamp on it. It means they still owe the bank
  • The AutoCheck report shows evidence of odometer rollback or title branded as junk, flooded, stolen, etc
  • There is no VIN# on the dashboard, or it has been filed down or altered in any way
  • The seller does not let you drive the car first
  • The seller does not back up every verbal promise IN WRITING!
  • The seller is NOT the owner of the car. It means they are a dealer's agent
  • The seller has no written bill of sale identifying the car, VIN#, and stating the title has not been rebuilt, etc.
  • The seller does not give you copies of anything you ask for
  • It's parked along the side of the road with a For sale sign, unless you can verify they are the owner
  • The seller has no drivers license, title, and registration for the car. Assume the car is stolen
  • You have not verified the seller's name on their drivers license is the same person on the car title
  • The seller refuses to let you take the car to a trusted mechanic for inspection
  • The seller's asking price is suspiciously far below market value
  • The seller makes you sign a power of attorney, or only wants cash
  • The seller tells you to pay now, and he'll get you the title tomorrow, it's locked up at the bank

Credit Card Fraud Escalates -- 40% increase in UK

May 19, 2010. London Times reported... "The number of victims of the “hidden crime” of card fraud has leapt by 40 per cent in a year to more than 2.4 million people. Credit and debit card fraud, which cost the banks £440 million last year, is rising fast at a time when figures for other types of crime indicate that the feared recession crimewave has failed to materialize. The number of victims is not included in the annual British Crime Survey, however, disguising the full extent of property crime in England and Wales. People are three times more likely to fall victim to plastic card fraud than have their homes burgled. A total of 6.4 per cent of card owners were the victims of fraud in 2008-09 compared with 4.7 per cent the previous year. However, the extent of card crime is hidden because the crime survey gives only percentages rather than the precise number of victims."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Metal thefts rise in amount and sophistication

From the New York Times - Photo of scrap yard metal available for recycling.

Criminals have become more brazen and educated in their metal thefts. It was formerly that drug users would scrap fully functioning air-conditioning units, guard rails, and other metals they could get their hands on. Now the metal crimes are much more glaring -- with miles of electrical power lines cut down, dragged, stripped, and hauled off within hours. The hyperlinked article shows the current plight of organized retail crime as it relates to metal theft.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Major Jewelers Hit by Crime Wave

Jewellery Brands Targeted for Large Heists

World-famous jewellery brands are being targeted by brazen thieves, with De Beers and Tiffany & Co the latest victims.

A gang of 10 robbers used sledgehammers to break into the De Beers and Tiffany & Co stores in London’s Westfield shopping centre.

At least $1.6 million in jewellery was stolen in the night raids on Wednesday, May 5, The Australian reported last week

The robbery was over in just a few minutes, with the thieves fleeing the scene in stolen cars.

A high-speed police chase followed, however the gang managed to elude police.

After the robbery, Francois Delage, chief executive of De Beers, raised a few eyebrows by turning news of the theft into a sales pitch.

"This is an unfortunate incident, but is yet another reminder of the timeless allure of diamonds," he said.

London jewellers have experienced a spate of similar attacks over the past year, often involving gangs of thieves and heavy tools.

More than $6.7 million worth of goods have been taken from Watches of Switzerland, Cartier, Dolce & Gabbana and Tiffany & Co.

The most notable robbery occurred in August last year, when more than $67 million worth of diamonds were stolen from Graff Diamonds - Britain’s biggest jewellery robbery of all time.

Three teenagers have been arrested in relation to the most recent robberies, although charges are yet to be laid.