Americans More Worried About Crime Amid Violence, Retail Crime Wave

Casey Harper, The Center Square

Americans have become more worried about crime after a significant increase in violent crime and an increase in retail theft in recent years.

Newly released Gallup polling found that 53% of surveyed Americans worry a “great deal” about crime, the highest level since 2016. The poll found an additional 27% of Americans are worried a “fair amount” about crime, with women, Republicans and city residents among the most concerned.

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“Americans’ concern about crime and violence in the U.S. has edged up in the past year, and for the first time since 2016, a majority (53%) say they personally worry a ‘great deal’ about crime,” Gallup said. “Another 27% report they worry a “fair amount,” which places the issue near the top of the list of 14 national concerns – behind only inflation and the economy, and on par with hunger and homelessness.”

This is the most serious concern in many years.

“Gallup has tracked this measure since 2001 when a record-high 88% of U.S. adults said they worried about crime and violence, including 62% who expressed a great deal of concern,” the group said. “Worry about crime was lowest in 2014 when 70% were worried, including 39% who said they worried a great deal.”

After a significant increase in violent crime, the poll is now available. In California, retail theft has become rampant. Viral videos show thieves entering stores to steal merchandise and then walking out of the store unharmed.

This concern has been centered on San Francisco, where the problem of retail crime is so severe that Walgreens has closed 22 stores in the area.

“Organized retail crime continues to be a challenge facing retailers across San Francisco and we are not immune to that,” Walgreens said in a statement. “Retail theft across our San Francisco stores has continued to increase in the past few months to five times our chain average. During this time to help combat this issue, we increased our investments in security measures in stores across the city to 46 times our chain average in an effort to provide as safe environment.”

Another store reported similar issues, due in part to a California law which treats thefts below $950 as nonviolent misdemeanors. These crimes are rarely prosecuted and thefts of less than $950 have increased in California cities.

New York City has seen an increase in retail crimes, following a surge in violent crime.

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In 2020, the FBI saw a significant rise in homicides. While FBI data are not available yet for 2021 (but they will be), these numbers should rise.

The FBI reports that there were approximately 21,500 reported murders in 2020. This is the most in recent decades.

“In 2020, there were an estimated 1,277,696 violent crimes,” the FBI said. “When compared with the estimates from 2019, the estimated number of robbery offenses fell 9.3 percent and the estimated volume of rape (revised definition) offenses decreased 12.0 percent. The estimated number of aggravated assault offenses rose 12.1 percent, and the volume of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter offenses increased 29.4 percent.”

The Center Square permission granted this syndicated version.