Sunday, September 03, 2006

Criminals steal $50 per capita; less than government of Manteca

Ever since I noted that the new Measure M tax will cost every family about $240 per year, or $60 per capita, comparisons are now in style!

I guess $50 a person stolen is a lot. But lets take a closer look at this figure.

First, the figure is a tad high, they are using 63,000 as the population of Manteca, and most sources put the population figure closer to 67,000. That would make the actual per capita loss at $47.72.

Second, contrary to the headline, the article says over half the stolen property is recovered! This would put the actual loss at less than $24.

And this is the year to date, so lets think in terms of per year. $24 /7 *12 = about $41 per year.

Now to be sure, this is a purely economic analysis, and doesn't consider the moral issues of crime. But in terms of pure monetary value, does it make sense to spend another $60 on "crime prevention" when the losses are, at most $41? Before you decide that sounds pretty close, bear in mind: 1) this cost figure of the tax is over and above the hundreds of $'s per year we already pay for police services and 2) in order to see that savings of $41 a year, the Manteca Police Department would have to perform a miracle and completely eliminate all crime. If they reduce crime a little, you might save a dollar or two, who knows.

But remember, this is all predicated on the ability of the police to reduce crime. It sounds simple, but very hard to do. There's yet to be a really good study that proves that "more police" or "better police" have any effect whatsoever on the crime rate. You'll hear things both ways, but it's just hard to prove one way or the other.

For example, look at Stockton. They passed "Measure W" the tax increase to "hire more police, make the community safer, etc." The result? Two years later violent crime is up 13.6% (Figures from The Record (Stockton))

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