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Rural and Agricultural Crime

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 9 Issue: 1 Dated: (1981) Pages: 19-27
C R Swanson
Date Published
9 pages
Data on rural and agricultural crime are presented to support the contention that these crimes constitute a serious problem which has been largely neglected in national statistics and scholarly research.
Although crime is generally viewed as an urban problem, evidence indicates that rural crime, particularly rural economic crime, deserves greater attention than it has received to date. Agricultural and rural targets of economic crime have large value and are very vulnerable due to such factors as their isolated settings and the limited law enforcement resources available. In addition, a significant amount of crime has been reported in rural and agricultural environments. For example, the 1978 reported rural crime rates for murder, rape, aggravated assault, burglary, and larceny exceed the 1965 reported crime rates in standard metropolitan statistical areas for these same offenses. In addition, the percentage increase in the total crime index was 43 percent greater for rural areas than for urban areas between 1969 and 1978. Data from numerous sources indicate that rural and agricultural crime involves significant losses. Evidence from several States also indicates that organized criminals and organized crime are involved in planning and executing rural and agricultural crimes such as grain frauds and equipment thefts. Since the rural criminal justice system cannot deal with all these problems, responsibility for the control of rural crime should be reapportioned to include greater involvement by urban justice agencies. County extension agents should also be trained in crime prevention techniques. Collection of national statistics and an increase in research on rural crime are also needed. The absence of a body of knowledge on this subject has forced policies and programs to be formed in a less than informed environment. One table, 1 figure, 19 notes, and 29 references are provided.