“Crime is worse now” – perception vs reality

Today this opinion panel piece appeared in the NYTimes, “These Conservative Men Are Making No Apologies” I read the edited transcript and then listened to the full segment later. (And yes, heavily edited. The written version omits gems such as “Biden is a puppet!” and “[I got] yelled at for my mask not covering my nose!”)

I was curious about several peoples’ comments on their perception of crime now versus “back then” (whenever that was). For now, I’m keeping out of the topic of whether the Times is serious when they call this group: “Americans whose voices are often not heard in opinion journalism.”

The first identified as a 67 year old white retiree in Orlando, FL:

I live in Orlando, and when we moved here, it was a beautiful place. Now, right down the street, people are stealing stuff, breaking into cars. 

While it’s not clear from the article how long he’s been in Orlando, crime rate info going back 20+ years is readily available. Below shows Orlando FL Motor Vehicle Thefts 1999-2018 – while this chart doesn’t show it, vehicle theft rates continue to drop in Orlando post-2018.

Chart of Orlando FL Motor Vehicle Thefts 1999-2018
Orlando FL Motor Vehicle Thefts 1999-2018

The next, identified as a 37 year old white New Yorker, said:

This is not the America I remember growing up in, and it’s just sad to see what’s going on.

I grew up with Giuliani. I’m born and raised in New York. I see stuff every day. I take the subways to work, and it’s not what it used to be. It’s a problem.

It should by now be clear that crime rates were higher under Giuliani (Mayor from 1994-2001) than they are now, even if they have trended upward in the past 2 years.

Chart of New York Crime Rate 1979-2018
New York Crime Rate 1979-2018

In future posts, I want to start looking at what’s behind this perception gap. These panelists all self-identified as “conservative,” with several explicitly mentioning they were Trump voters. Do liberals/progressives/leftists have the same misperception about this kind of data?

It will be interesting to see if we can find out.