In New York they'll kill you, but at least the video's safe

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In New York they'll kill you, but at least the video's safe

New York now has proportionately fewer burglaries than London, and the rate in Los Angeles has fallen behind that of Sydney, according to figures reported by the New York Times yesterday. Incidence of property crime for the United States as a whole is so far down since 1980 - led by a 50 per cent fall in the burglary rate - that the US is now comparable with the Netherlands, Canada or Australia in its overall crime rate.

However, the precipitate fall in burglary is not matched by a similar fall in violent crime. Despite a recent drop, it has risen overall since 1980 by 6 per cent. The US has up to 18 times more murders than any other industrial democracy. And while Londoners are 60 per cent more likely to be burgled than New Yorkers, they are five times less likely to be robbed and ten times less likely to be murdered.

A variety of explanations is offered for these trends, from the declining number of teenage males in the population as a whole, to the dying out of the professional burglar's "art". The switch from heroin to crack cocaine as the most prevalent street drug is also offered as a partial explanation, as addicts find burglary a slower and less reliable means of raising cash than robbery. Criminologists are cited as judging tougher policing, longer prison sentences and an increase in the number of burglar alarms to be contributing factors, but not the whole explanation. - Mary Dejevsky, Washington