It would be difficult to go through life without committing a single crime. Did you ever steal a candy from the local store as a child, spray-paint your name on the wall of a building, or even break the speed limit? These small, or petty crimes, will likely not land you in jail, however, a 2014 report published by PolitiFact cited evidence suggesting that 70 percent of Americans had indeed done something that could have landed them in jail. The main reason: illicit drug use, of which a large part of American society has taken part in at some point or another. Habitual drunk driving was another reason. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, a repeat offender could get a mandatory life sentence in the USA even if the crimes were not what we consider major.
Let’s start with the USA, a country well-known for its sometimes decried prison industrial complex and that by far has the largest prison population in the world. One in three adult Americans have a criminal record according to the FBI, but we should know that having a record means just that, and doesn’t necessarily mean that millions of Americans were all convicted.
According to the FBI, a felony – rather than a misdemeanor such as speeding – happens in the USA every few seconds. The most common of which is theft and larceny, which makes up around 60 percent of all crimes, and accounts for about 7 million instances every year in the U.S. Second on the list was burglary, which makes up about 18 percent of American crimes, and in third place was motor vehicle theft. Next were aggravated assault and then robbery. We should also note that these were crimes which were reported. The Bureau of Justice Statistics said in 2015 that only 47 percent of serious crimes are reported to the police. As for smaller crimes, it’s thought that around 41,000,000 Americans were issued a speeding ticket in 2016. This is generally thought to be America’s number one minor offense, followed by Driving under the Influence (DUI).
The U.S.’s neighbor, Canada, is very similar, with theft being top, assault second, and breaking and entering coming in third. Mischief is also up there, which according to a Canadian law website means “damaging a person’s property without intending to steal it.”
What about over the pond in the UK. The British media this year reported that the most common crime now is fraud and cyber offense, with almost one in ten people these days getting stung online. The numbers were compiled in a Crime Survey of England and Wales (not all of the UK), and sought to find a more realistic crime figure as so many crimes (especially online scams) are not reported. They revealed that of the 11.8 million crimes committed, 3.6 million were fraud, 2 million computer misuse, theft 3.5 million, 1.2 million relating to criminal damage, and 1.3 million were offences of violence against the person. As for reported crimes, UkCrimeStats.com gives us month to month data, which covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not Scotland. Around half a million crimes are reported monthly with ASB, or anti-social behavior coming top most months. Those British hooligans just can’t stop themselves and violence is the next most common crime. That is followed by theft (including burglary, car theft, shoplifting, robbery) criminal damage and arson, and then vehicle crime. The one thing that has shot-up recently in the UK is violent crime.
So, let’s head over to more peaceful climes and away from the gun-toting Americans and British bullies. In 2017 one of the most amusing stories came from the Economist, who wrote that there were so few instances of crime in Japan that the cops there had nothing to do and were bored. The magazine stated cops would leave a “Honeypot,” which was an unlocked car in the street full of cases of beer, just so they had something to stakeout. The Tokyo Review took umbrage to this story, stating that around one in four Japanese women are physically abused by their partners – they just don’t report it most of the time. It also said while gangs, guns, and robberies were not common, rape, sexual assault, groping and molestation were common. According to the Japan Times in 2016, theft and fraud were the leading crimes, although if you go to the Japanese US Embassy website, most of the crime warnings are related to street scams and drugging in Tokyo’s red light district. In fact, if you read various media on what the world’s most common crimes are, theft is the top crime globally. This is followed by assault and vehicle crimes. Drug related offences are also up there.
If we move over to India, like Japan, instances of violence against women and rape are very high. The times of India reported that there were 93 women being raped in India every day. India Spend reported in 2015 that indeed crimes against women in India were extremely common, stating that such crimes are reported every two seconds in the country.
You may have read over the last few years that Sweden is the rape capital of Europe. Donald Trump helped propagate this story with his comments on immigrants in Sweden and their ostensible proclivity towards violence and sexual violence. For their part, Swedish people took to social media to ask what he was talking about. According to a lengthy Snopes report, “There is simply no data to show that Sweden is the rape capital of Europe, or even that rape is on the rise in the country.” Indeed, if you check out the Swedish government’s crime statistics for 2016, not surprisingly, theft comes top, offences against the person (this includes rape, but all other offenses against a person too, such as assault), comes second. Fraud, criminal damage and road traffic offenses come next.
Right now it’s looking like the most common crimes are similar in every country, with perhaps almost crime-free Japan and India’s crimes against women being the stand-out nations. Are any nations different?
Singapore is generally up there as having one of the lowest crime rates in the world, but it does cane its citizens if they are found vandalizing things or even littering in the streets. In 2017, The Guardian published a crime story about Singapore that entailed Singaporean police investigating a 60-year old man for leaving toothpicks in public bus seats so other travelers would sit on them. At the moment, the most troubling crime in the country is cybercrime, and that includes online theft and fraud.
Can you go to an exotic paradise such as The Maldives and escape crime? Unfortunately, we cannot find any official statistics for crime rates there, although it’s reported in various media articles that theft happens, and some of that is theft relating to tourists. According to statistics site Numbeo, tourists have been mugged, assaulted, robbed, and insulted, while drug dealing and corruption also happens there.
You might be safe if you travel to the world’s least populated country, which is the Pitcairn Islands. The 50-plus population don’t generally get into trouble, and recently the island has been trying to lure more residents to its picturesque beaches and hills. But even there, in the middle of the ocean, the darker side of the human character exists. In 2004, seven men on the island were accused of child abuse, and while in the past what happened on Pitcairn usually stayed on Pitcairn, it was revealed to the world that a handful of these male residents – some of ancestors of mutineers – had been involved in egregious crimes against young girls on the island and also computer crimes.
So, what is the most common crime in your neck of the woods? Have you ever fallen victim to a crime? Let us know in the comments!