State has third highest rate of unreported property crimes in country, study shows

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Police Chief Stephen McCartney isn’t particularly surprised about a recent study on the high amount of property crimes that go unreported in Rhode Island.

The report from Security Baron is a “consumer-focused website dealing in matters of security – home security, property security, cyber security and more. This particular study included a survey of 2,500 individuals, polling people from every state about how/when they report property crime, which includes theft and vandalism.

The study found that 40 percent of Rhode Islanders said they would consider not reporting property crimes to police, which is the third highest rate in all 50 states they surveyed.

“I am not completely surprised by the study,” Chief McCartney said in an email. “We have had situations where we have discovered that car was broken into [nothing taken] and the victim decides not to file a report with us.”

Car theft, especially when nothing of value is taken, and vandalism are the most prominent forms of underreported crimes, according to the study. The reason for this is property value.

According to the report, 67 percent of Americans would consider looking into neighborhood crime statistics when searching for a new home to buy or rent. Seventy-two percent would not consider a property in which a violent crime had taken place, and 78 percent of property-seekers look at the crime history for potential neighbors as well.

Because of how much people care about prior crime in an area they’re looking to settle into, or because of apathy, or because of the fact that FBI data shows nearly 20 percent of property crimes being cleared by police, people aren’t reporting property crimes to the police at a high rate, according to this study.

The problem that arises, according to Chief McCartney, is an inability for police to properly report crime rates in areas.

“My problem is that from a crime analysis perspective it skewers our statistics [since we have no report] and we have to be careful to account for the fact that crime was committed at a location but went unreported,” he said in a statement. “[It is] very difficult for us to give you an exact accounting for unreported crime because we still need a report to account for the unreported crime. There will probably be situations where a crime will be discovered by the victim and he will decide to not even call us.”

Click to view the study's interactive graphic.

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