At first, child predators got all the attention from police trying to keep the Internet safe. The Detroit News says that increasingly, the focus of law enforcement in Detroit and elsewhere is on the Internet muggers who steal identities, credit, e-mail, or corporate secrets. Computer crimes are the fastest-growing offense locally. Nationally, one survey showed the number of companies victimized by computer theft jumped from 38 percent in 2003 to 83 percent this year.
Despite the growing problems, Internet crime units are often underfunded, undermanned and occasionally targeted for funding cuts. There is a lack of uniformity in the way agencies track the crimes statistically, which makes grasping the depth of the problem difficult. Daniel Roberts, the new Detroit head of the FBI, said he wants to create a new cybercrimes squad by consolidating all federal computer-related cases in one unit. The Wayne County sheriff is seeking a $400,000 state grant to fund a four-officer unit dedicated to identity theft. In 2002, nearly 10 million Americans were victims of identity theft, said the Federal Trade Commission. Arrests are made in fewer than 5 percent of cases. The manpower to keep pace with the growth in Web crime is not there, the News says.