Catch That Crime Wave

When violent crime was declining during the 1990s, Americans were slow to acknowledge the trend. Numerous polls showed people insisting crime was up even as hard evidence showed it falling sharply. So, how do they feel now that federal statistics show serious and violent crime up by 2 percent after a decade of decreases? In a Gallup poll fielded last month, 62 percent of adults said there’s more crime now than a year ago in the U.S.; 21 percent said there’s less. By comparison, an October 2001 poll found 41 percent saying there was more crime than a year earlier and 43 percent saying there was less. Which crimes are most widely feared? Forty-five percent of adults worry about their home being burglarized when they’re not there; 44 percent worry about their car being stolen or broken into; 40 percent fear being a victim of terrorism. If you murder someone, you may catch him by surprise: Just 17 percent fear that fate. As the chart shows, many people have taken steps (including drastic ones) to fend off crime.