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The Big Answer

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A Criminal Profile

an article by our site

In a survey of 589 thieves, researchers found that more than half had begun their careers before the age of 14. One in ten started before age 10. Among those who committed their first property crime before they turned 15, forty-eight percent had committed six or more crimes the year before conviction. Of those who started after 15, only 25 percent stole six or more times—indicating that the sooner they start, the more criminally active they become.

Surveys are great marketing, sociological, and demographic research tools
Surveys are great marketing, sociological, and demographic research tools

Twenty percent stole to get money for drugs or alcohol. Sixteen percent say they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when committing crimes. Twenty-one percent stole to get money for themselves, while 15 percent needed money for their families. Nine percent of offenders account for 55 percent of property crimes.

The criminals point to the growing drug problems, poverty, joblessness, and gangs as the motivating forces behind crime. They say they'd go straight with better drug and alcohol treatment programs, job training, the threat of longer jail terms, and increased odds that they'd get caught in the act. ("Crime Stoppers," from the report: The Business of Crime: The Criminal Perspective, American Demographics, March 1989, pp. 11-12)

US robbery rates per 100000 1980-2010
(Source: United States Crime Rates 1960 - 2011 ,FBI, Uniform Crime Reports)

Why do criminals commit crimes? The reasons why people commit crimes, in addition to the ones given above, are well researched and have been for many years. Radell Smith (Sociological Reasons People Commit Crime on the Yahoo! Contributor Network) says that "The criminal is either mentally challenged, mentally ill, lacking in opportunities to legitimately achieve goals, has criminality in his genetic makeup, was raised or taught by criminals, hung out with criminals, just wanted to be a criminal, was forced into it by society or a traumatic event response, or has a hormone imbalance." But she also says "since society has an obsession about obtaining wealth, and encourages everyone to do it, but restricts the criminal's opportunities to achieve this goal, society is forcing him to resort to means outside the norm to achieve wealth." And the reason a specific criminal violates the law, is different for every person, and no one knows the actual answer to this question without studying the person, his background, and the crime in depth.

rape rates per 100000 1960-2010
(Source: United States Crime Rates 1960 - 2011 , FBI, Uniform Crime Reports)

assault rates per 100000 1960-2010
(Source: United States Crime Rates 1960 - 2011 , FBI, Uniform Crime Reports)