It’s no secret that Americans have a fascination with the killer instinct. It’s in the television we watch (from following around blood spatter pattern analyst/serial killers to an endless supply of CSI), and it seems to be built into the video game culture. And for the most part, these forms of entertainment are just that—an understood, safe outlet for morbid curiosity.
The problem is that the entertainment is starting to show up in some strange places. Like the news headlines.
On any given day (especially if you live in a major city) taking a glance at the local news is enough to keep you cooped up at home or nervously looking over your shoulder. Stabbings, shooting sprees, and people eating each other’s faces dominate the headlines without question. But while violent crimes are very real, the fact is they don’t happen nearly as often as they get reported on.
Why are violent reports the ones we always here about? Probably because the crimes that are really happening on a significant scale—like burglary, robbery and auto theft—just make for less captivating stories. Problem is, they’re real.
We looked at four major U.S. cities, and focused on what the media was reporting on in a given week, and how it compared to what the police had reported. The media covers violent crimes 20-30% of the time, even though murder represents less than 1% of the crimes committed.
The 0.8% of murders that happened in this week took up 69.2% of the news coverage. Nothing was covered on the 19.6% of burglary incidents or 24.9% of auto theft from police reports.
In the empire state, 0.4% of the murder cases ballooned into 27.4% of the media’s attention. They neglected to mention any of the 25.2% of burglaries and car thefts.
A mere 0.1% of murders turned into 27.3% of the news covered in this week. And, somehow, a reported 0% of rape incidents occupied 27.3% of the news.
Larceny and auto theft took up more than half of the reported crimes this week, and neither was mentioned in the news.
What We’ve Learned
Those attention-grabbing headlines about murders and stabbings may help pass the time during the daily commute, but they aren’t so great at informing the community of its real problems. Based on what we found, you’re always more likely to become a victim of theft—even in a city with the highest murder rate. It’s kind of like worrying about being struck by lightning so much that you forget your boots and catch cold.
The Good News
The crimes that are really happening out there are ones that most people can take preventative measures against.
On average, a person in the U.S. is over 1,000 times more likely to experience a theft or burglary over a violent crime. Even a stroll down the block will tell you that there’s more broken glass from cars being broken into than police tape surrounding a murder scene. So instead of barricading yourself up in your room, relax and enjoy a night out. People are much more likely to take your things than endanger your life, regardless of how scary the headlines might sound.
This post was written by Kevin Raposo, a blogger for SimpliSafe Home Security and Infobia. Kevin covers issues regarding security, crime, safety, consumer technology, and crime.