How the Cost of Crime Affects Citizens

Rarely, if ever are the costs of a criminal act added up and reported in full. Sometimes the costs take decades for a complete tally. At other times, the costs are relatable, but not calculable. But invariably, the costs of the simplest purse snatching add up over hours or days, just as the costs of more major or violent crimes add up over time.

In one criminal case, a woman rented a house to some people. The tenants proceeded to tear up the house, reroute live electrical mains, tear holes in supporting foundation walls, and to set up a marijuana growing operation. The woman’s insurance company refused to pay the tab, because “a crime” was involved as the cause of the damage. It did not matter that she did not commit the crime and was the victim, she just ended up getting no reimbursement from insurance.

She ran out of money from this, and was saved by appealing to the producers of a television show, “Holmes on Homes”, where a contractor comes in and helps people to correct terrible problems with their homes.

The costs of replacing a car that was totaled by an uninsured, unlicensed driver are far more than the value of the car, in many cases. The interest rates, however, are not part of the insurance reimbursement, so the car owner of a new car can still owe thousands of dollars if the remaining debt exceeds the insurance coverage.

So, the insurance reimbursement is bound to be less than the cost to replace items that are stolen or damaged as a result of crime.

There are “costs per hour” for investigators, first responders, and other officials who are called in when a crime occurs. These include salaries and benefits, of course, but there are also costs of gas, wear and tear on vehicles and equipment, and the use of consumables at the scene. There are costs for forensic testing, hours spent traveling, interviewing witnesses, writing reports. There are the costs of collecting, storing, documenting and maintaining evidence.

There are the costs that go on and on if the perpetrator is caught. From jail processing to interviewing, arraignment, court, and maintaining the person in jail, with full medical, food and other support.

The victim, meanwhile, may have physical, emotional, and other issues that can cost enormous sums over time. If the victim loses the ability to work because of injuries, then welfare programs may have to apply to the person’s support and medical care. In the case of uninsured, illegal motorists, the criminal can be as bold as to be out driving the next day, and never have to pay a dime for multiple fender bender and even more serious accidents.

The citizens pay for the rest of their driving lives for “uninsured motorist” coverage.

As a result, the victim pays until they have nothing left to pay anything with, then the taxpayer loses, and the budgets of city, state, and federal agencies are tapped.

Crime never ends, and the public costs that apply to each and every citizen continue to add up as long as the victim and the perpetrator live. And the perpetrators continue to commit more crimes until they are jailed for life or dead.