Factors That Have Contributed To The Rise In Street Crime

July 3, 2024

Street crime is a term used to describe criminal activities in public places. Common examples of street crimes include assault, robbery, and murder.

Although there has been a significant decrease in street crimes in the past couple of decades, things took a turn for the worse after the pandemic. The overall number of street crimes has decreased compared to the numbers from three decades ago. However, when compared with the data from recent years, the number is going up. 

The following factors have contributed to the rise in street crime in the U.S.: 

1.     Economic Inequality: 

Wealth inequality is one of the biggest issues plaguing American society today. Despite everyone noticing the problem, nobody is interested in doing anything to shorten the gap between the wealthy and the poor. Due to increasing economic inequality, homelessness is also on the rise. By January 2023, 1 in 500 Americans were experiencing homelessness, proving how dire the situation had become. 

As a result of the poor getting poorer, street crime has started increasing. The lack of opportunities to earn money legally has only made things worse for low-income people. People have begun engaging in petty thefts to get by. 

2.     Drug Addiction: 

Drugs are slowly infiltrating every walk of life in American society, from schools to colleges and offices to communities. Drug overdose deaths are nearing 1 million since 2000. The addiction is also leading people to engage in street crimes to get their fix. When people with a substance use disorder can’t find the money from legal sources to procure drugs, they turn to crimes like theft and robbery to obtain drugs. 

The dependency on drugs not only affect the financial status of people but also their sanity. As a result, it becomes difficult for people to differentiate between right and wrong, leading them to engage in criminal activities. 

3.     Gang Activity: 

Cities like Miami, where gangs are still active, have to deal with a higher number of street crime cases than other areas. Gang-related violence often spills over to the different communities in a city. Innocent bystanders can even lose their lives during gang activity. However, the people of such cities have become more vigilant. For instance, a Miami shooting victim would know who to contact for help and compensation. This awareness, in its capacity, has reduced criminal activity due to higher accountability from the investigations that follow such injury cases.

4.     COVID-19:

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the dynamics of societies worldwide. It also caused a total economic collapse for corporations and individuals. With businesses shut down across the globe, people had no option but to turn to crimes to support themselves. The frustration caused by hopelessness also increased the number of violent crimes. 

Social distancing during the pandemic led to people feeling isolated. Being on their own also drove people to near insanity, disturbing their worldview and making them filled with hatred. In such situations, unless steps are taken to alleviate the tension, stopping the spread of crimes becomes impossible. 

5.     The Relationship Between Police & the General Public: 

In recent years, the relationship between police and the general public has worsened due to the former’s handling of different matters. The public’s decreased trust in the institution leads to less reporting of violent crimes. When crimes are not reported on time, criminals end up getting away. In such situations, it is common for criminals to become bold and commit even more serious crimes. The cycle continues until things get worse or the police intervene.

6.     Lack of Community Support: 

In the past, people had communities they could turn to in their hour of need. Whether it was a financial problem or a psychological problem, communities would come together to help each other. However, over the years, economic conditions have gotten bad for everyone, making it harder for people to care about each other. Even if someone wishes to help others, they fail to do so due to a limited number of resources available at their disposal. 

Lack of support from the community ends up driving people towards crime. When people feel they have no one to turn to, they feel hopeless and lost. They commit crimes to fill their stomachs and live another day. 

Prevention – A Required Joint Effort:

In order to stop the rise in street crime, a joint effort from the government, educational institutions, and society is needed. When everyone comes together to care for the marginalized and struggling class of society, the number of street crimes will begin to drop automatically. However, it is crucial to understand that this feat can only be achieved after some time. Along with effort, time is needed to change the dynamics of the society. Meanwhile, citizens should practice caution to protect themselves from becoming victims of violent street crimes. 

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