When to call the police?: how crime type and contextual factors impact crime reporting

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Alabama Libraries

Crime reporting is vital for community safety, yet many crimes are not reported to police. What factors impact a citizen’s decision whether or not to report crime? Extant literature has focused on between-person likelihood to report a single, abstract crime. This body of research has found that crime reporting varies across racial groups and by a persons’ views of police. Yet, it is not clear how contextual factors impact within-person variation in likelihood to report crime. Using a survey-embedded experiment with a national sample (n=1900), I examine factors that impact within-person variance in likelihood to report crimes across series of scenarios. These scenarios vary on crime type, police response, and community reaction to create 72 possible combinations. Each participant was presented with a series crime pairs and was asked which scenario they would be more likely to report to police in each pair. Participants were then prompted to elaborate on the reasons behind their choice in an open-ended response that I coded for analysis. Results indicate that the contextual factors of crime type, police response, and community reaction were influential in the decision to report a crime scenario. Keywords: crime reporting, police, race, community norms

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation