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nearly two-thirds had been involved for at least two and a half years, and over half had been involved for four years or more. Among 21-25 year olds (n-24), nearly six out of ten had been involved for four years or more.

Number of offences

Inierviewee accounts of the number of cars they had stolen may doubtless be prone to error and exaggeration, bui taken at face value, just under half of 15-16 year olds reporied having stolen over 100 cars. For the 17 year olds, a third reported having stolen between 11 and 50 ears and the largest group (360*0) reported having stolen several hundred. A core of relatively inexperienced thieves were among the 18-20 year olds in the sample: 9 out of the 24 had stolen between I and lOcars. However, ten of the 18-20 year olds said they had stolen at least 100 ears and five several hundred. About half of the 21-25 year olds also reporied stealing several hundred ears. Five of the seven subjects older than 25 reporied stealing several hundred cars over their career.

Table 2.1 presents the facts as reported by interviewees. Extrapolating for these figures suggests an estimated 7,000 cars stolen by the 100 thieves interviewed, the average number of cars stolen was about 45 for those under 18, and 94 for those older.

1-5

13

6-10

6

11-30

II

31-50

10

51-100

13

101-200

7

201-300

4

301-400

1

500 +

33

Total

98

Frequency of offending

Three-quarters of the sample said that at their most active they committed offences at least two or three times a week (Figure 2.4). While the estimates given of the number of cars stolen over their full careers (see above) may have appeared high, they would by no means be impossible to achieve given these stated weekly levels of offending—assuming that these too were not exagger- ated. A large proportion of respondents from the North of England (84%) fell into the three highest categories for frequency of offending.

Table 2.1 Number of cars stolen (n = 98)

n

11

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