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New Research Identifies Trends in Maine’s Crime Victimization

MCVS Cover

On October 3, the Maine Statistical Analysis Center of the USM Muskie School of Public Service released the 2011 Maine Crime Victimization Survey Report, conducted to raise awareness among Maine policymakers, practitioners, advocacy organizations, and the public of crime victimization trends in Maine. The report includes data on identify theft, stalking and property crime, public perception of safety and law enforcement, and crime victimization trends. Unlike standard reported data at a state or local level, the MCVS report includes comprehensive victimization totals that reflect unreported crimes and characteristics of victims and offenders.

As a follow-up to the 2007 Maine Crime Victimization Survey, the report allows for comparisons to be made between perceptions of safety and crime victimization trends exhibited in 2007 and 2011.  

Key findings include:

Most Mainers feel safe in their communities: Nearly 94 percent of those surveyed report feeling safe in the community where they live, and 87.9 percent say they are never or almost never fearful of being the victim of a violent crime.

Respondents report highest victimization rates for identity theft, property crimes, and stalking.

Identity theft has grown significantly in the past five years:  Overall, 15 percent of those surveyed say they have been victimized by identity theft in the previous 12 months, which is significantly higher than the 2006 rate of 10.4 percent. The most common form of identity theft is someone using or attempting to use credit cards without the respondent’s knowledge, the rate of which has nearly doubled from 2006. 

Reporting crime to the police declined significantly:  Overall, 40.4 percent of those surveyed who were victimized by a crime say they reported the incident to local law enforcement agencies, a rate significantly lower than the 52.7 percent rate in 2006. Stalking crimes and identity theft reporting rates also fell significantly between 2011 and 2006, even though the incidence rate increased.

Mainers feel local law enforcement performs well: A majority of survey respondents (72.5 percent) view law enforcement performance in their communities as good or very good.

Stalking victims are more likely to be the victims of other crimes:  Those who report one or more stalking behaviors directed at them are nearly three times more likely to be a victim of a violent crime and twice as likely to be the victim of a property crime than the overall average. 

Mainers perceive substance abuse and family issues as the greatest contributors to crime:  Those surveyed rate illegal drugs and the lack of parental discipline as most responsible for crime.

For further information regarding report findings, please contact Mark Rubin, USM Muskie School of Public Service, 207-780-5843 or mrubin@usm.maine.edu .