Crime trends and inferences

By Senior Constable Mick Emery

One of my least favourite subjects at Uni was statistics – a very boring subject which was in no way enhanced by the very boring lecturer.

Yet somehow the bell curve worked in my favour and my ‘average’ results were enough to scrape in a pass.

You could say there was a ‘proportionate relationship’ between: my level of interest in the subject (low); and the amount of hours spent studying it (also low).

Nowadays, I’m a little more interested in statistics. In particular the perceived relationship between: increased numbers of tourists; and increase in property crime in Rainbow Beach.

The September holidays just gone provides a useful case study, with the town population increasing from about 1000 to over 10 000…

Given the spike in tourist numbers, it should come as no surprise that there was also a corresponding spike in crime figures. The increase was found in the form of theft from unlocked vehicles, entry to business premises, and theft of mobile phones from a hostel.

But here is where the stats don’t tell the whole story…

While it would be a reasonable theory to attribute this crime spike to one of the visiting hordes, the reality is: none of the offences were committed by tourists. That’s right – our September holiday crime spree rests squarely at the feet of two locals, both of whom were apprehended and are now before the courts.

So what possible conclusions can we draw from this crime trend?

A statistician might erroneously conclude: you are more likely to be a victim of crime here during the school holidays (this could lead to a false sense of security at other times of the year).

The unfortunate reality is: opportunist thieves live among us.

You can limit their impact by locking your doors every day (not just in the holiday periods).

Or, in other words, don’t become another statistic…