No Such Thing as Victimless Crime

By Kathleen Flynn

Part of my job as a mediator is to work with both adult and youth offenders to ensure restitution is paid to their victims. Much of the difficulty comes in getting offenders to recognize the victims behind their crimes. Some offenders think that they haven’t hurt anyone, so their crime is no big deal.

Some examples of crimes that offenders view as victimless are shoplifting, vandalism, graffiti, theft from large companies, and robbing people of means. There is a misconception that the victims in these cases can absorb the loss because they’re rich or insured. The reality is that there is no such thing as a victimless crime.

Theft from any business requires the company to compensate for losses by raising consumer prices, lowering wages to employees, or limiting work hours to cut down on expenses for employee health insurance. Companies will also purchase added inventory insurance and pay for security guards, cameras, and other theft prevention devices, further shrinking employee wages and raising consumer cost.

Graffiti and vandalism often times create an even greater hardship for small businesses and homeowners. An owner has to pay someone to clean or repaint their vandalized property so its value doesn’t drop and customers keep coming back. Depending on how badly the property is damaged, vandalism also raises an owner’s insurance rates. These victims also experience a great sense of emotional outrage because many have worked all their lives to attain their business or home.

Financial hardship, outrage, and fear are some of the byproducts that go unseen by an offender while in commission of a crime. When companies or homeowners file insurance claims due to crime, the insurance company raises rates on the rest of us to compensate for their loss. When one home is robbed, neighbors become fearful that they will be next.

As my supervisor, Brohne Lawhorne, says, “When someone commits a crime, it is like dropping a pebble in a pond. It has consequences that are far-reaching to many unseen people.”