Explaining the property crime drop: the offender perspective

11 Feb 2015

Foreword: For more than a decade, Australia has witnessed a sustained reduction in property crime. Yet relatively little is known about what may have caused this decline.

This study aimed to explore plausible explanations for the property crime drop by ‘going to the source’ and interviewing a sample of 994 police detainees as part of the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) Program. The results showed that less than half of police detainees were able to offer a reason for the property crime drop, highlighting the difficulties with asking for retrospective explanations for an observed event.

Among those who gave a response, nine key themes were identified as potential reasons for the property crime drop. The most frequent of these related to improved security, improved policing and ‘other’ reasons. Less frequent responses related to increased affluence, increased imprisonment, improved community responses, changes in drug use, changes in the market for stolen goods and changes in crime recording. These findings provide a basis for future testing of hypotheses that might explain the property crime drop in Australia.

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