Study: Property Crime Stats Ignore Online Theft


Rates of property crime have decreased consistently since the 1990s, but a new study in Justice Quarterly makes the case that the numbers reported in the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports miss a growing sector of property crime: the online kind.

Researchers note that more than 80 percent of American adults, and 95 percent of teens use the Internet, but there's been little official recordkeeping of online crime.

Many cybercrimes are never reported to police, and researchers point out that cybercrime victims are often unaware they've been victimized. They point to major attacks on retailers — like the ones on Target and Home Depot — in which data for millions of customers was compromised.

The researchers note that some companies handle hacks privately, and prefer not to report data losses, in order to protect their public reputations. This lack of reporting makes it hard to estimate nationwide online property crime losses, researchers write.

“But the financial losses attributable to identity theft appear far in excess of the damage inflicted by traditional property crime,” according to the paper.

The full study is available for purchase HERE.

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