How much crime really occurs? Don

By Aliya Sternstein Nextgov December 11, 2012

The United States has no accounting of how much crime there really is nationwide because FBI statistics do not reflect cybercrimes and other offenses that have cropped up since reporting began in 1930. But that might change in 2013.

“Millions victimized by fraud and online crimes, but this is often not captured,” Justice Department officials tweeted during the first meeting in 82 years to figure out the best crime indicators. Deputy Assistant Attorney General James Burch microblogged the event Wednesday, posting comments from attendees such as the previous quote from a Major Cities Chiefs Association representative.

“We have no idea how much crime there really is,” program consultant Paul Wormeli, a former deputy administrator of Justice’s Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, said in an interview.

The current — and, most would agree, outdated — taxonomy of offenses is the Uniform Crime Reporting system. Right now, the national statistics index is limited to violent crime, murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny theft, motor vehicle theft and arson. This regime masks the extent to which drug trafficking, or gun trafficking for that matter, fuels other crimes, experts note. The possible correlations are a flash point in the current debates over legalizing drugs and controlling the border with Mexico.

Next year, Justice officials expect to release an updated crime nomenclature and data mining technology to describe transgressions in meaningful contexts, such as the degree to which heroin plays a role in homicides.


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