By Na Jeong-ju
The number of unreported cases of robbery and theft could be approximately 18 times higher than the official tally, the National Police Agency (NPA) said Wednesday.
An NPA report on “hidden crimes” showed that most victims of robbery and theft tend to avoid reporting it to police for many reasons ― because they are afraid of possible retaliation, they don’t believe police will protect them or because neighbors or relatives are involved in the crimes.
The agency developed an index for hidden robberies and cases of theft following a survey on 1,200 people aged between 18 and 80. The index for such crimes which occurred in 2011 was 18.027, which means that the number of unreported cases could be about 18 times higher than the number of cases reported.
“Our tally shows some 281,362 cases of robbery and theft were reported last year. The index means that more than 5 million cases of robbery and theft actually occurred,” an NPA spokesman said.
The report came amid public uproar over a series of sexual assaults against minors and women.
The agency suggested that there could be many more rape victims than known because the reporting rate for sex crimes is lower than those for other crimes.
According to the Korean Institute of Criminology, only 11 percent of sex offense victims sought help from police in 2008. Almost half of sex crimes that occurred last year were committed by convicted sex offenders, according to another police report.
The NPA said it will also develop an index for unreported sex crimes.
“The results suggest that police should work harder to gain public trust and develop better protection programs for victims,” said Lee Chang-hoon, a criminology professor of Hannam University who led the research. “They also need to take necessary measures to ensure public security in crime-prone areas.”
The agency said it will step up patrols in residential areas and schools, and increase street lights and surveillance cameras in public places.