Types of Crime

Campus Crime

Illegal activities occurring within the boundaries of postsecondary institutions (PSIs), including assaults, rapes, and even homicide, are not new, nor have college campuses escaped various forms of “high-tech” offenses such as cyberstalking or illegal sharing of copyrighted material such as videos and music. However, until very recently, crime on college and university campuses was something college and university administrators in the United States were reluctant to discuss. Typically, criminal incidents occurring on campus that involved students were either handled internally via closed campus disciplinary proceedings, the results of which were not publicly available, or they were quietly handled by the local authorities. PSIs were not forthcoming about how much crime occurred within their institutional boundaries, nor were they forthcoming about their security policies, including whether they even existed. In short, campus crime was a “dirty little secret” that few schools were willing to discuss, let alone admit was problematic, and schools went to great lengths to keep the secret. Read more about Campus Crime.

Child Abuse

Child abuse is a very real and prominent social problem today. The impact of child abuse affects more than one’s childhood, as the psychological and physical injuries often extend well into adulthood. Most children are defenseless against abuse, are dependent on their caretakers, and are unable to protect themselves from these acts. Childhood serves as the basis for growth, development, and socialization. Throughout adolescence, children are taught how to become productive and positive, functioning members of society. Much of the socializing of children, particularly in their very earliest years, comes at the hands of family members. Unfortunately, the messages conveyed to and the actions against children by their families are not always the positive building blocks for which one would hope. Read more about Child Abuse.


Computer crime has been an issue in criminal justice and criminology since the 1970s. In this venue, the types of computer crimes have been categorized in two ways. First, a prevalent activity is that of criminals stealing computers. Second, criminals use computers to commit crimes. The recent development of the Internet has created a substantial increase in criminals using computers to commit crimes. Thus, an emerging area of criminal behavior is cybercrime. Cybercrime is a criminal act using a computer that occurs over the Internet. The Internet has become the source for multiple types of crime and different ways to perform these crimes. The types of cybercrime may be loosely grouped into three categories of cybercrimes. First, the Internet allows for the creation and maintenance of cybercrime markets. Second, the Internet provides a venue for fraudulent behavior (i.e., cyberfraud). Third, the Internet has become a place for the development of cybercriminal communities. Read more about Cybercrime.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence occurs when a current or former intimate partner exerts dominance and control in a relationship through physical, sexual, or psychological-emotional abuse, resulting in physical or emotional trauma to the victim. Other forms of domestic violence include stalking and dating violence. Other terms used for domestic violence include intimate partner violence, domestic abuse, family violence, spousal abuse, dating violence, wife abuse, and battering. While the statutory term for domestic violence in most states usually includes other family members besides intimate partners, such as children, parents, siblings, sometimes roommates, and so forth, practitioners typically apply the term domestic violence to a coercive, systemic pattern of physical, sexual, or psychological abuse between intimate partners. Victims of domestic violence can be women or men; however, the overwhelming majority of domestic violence involves women as victims and men as perpetrators. For this reason, many organizations concerned with domestic violence focus their attention and services specifically on violence against women and their children. Read more about Domestic Violence.

Elder Abuse

Since the 1970s, elder abuse has been increasingly recognized as a problem across the world. Attention from researchers first surfaced when Baker (1975) discussed the concept of “granny battering” in British medical journals in the mid-1970s. In the United States, interest paralleled a series of political actions, media exposures, and research reports. In 1979, the House Select Committee on Aging held a hearing called “The Hidden Problem.” Around the same time, an episode of Quincy, a late-1970s TV drama series, depicted a case of elder abuse. Katz (1990) argues that the Quincy episode built support for the elder abuse agenda and contributed to public demands for changes in state and federal statutes. Also, The Battered Elder Syndrome was published by Block and Sinnott (1979) around this time, giving increased attention to problems of abuse encountered by older adults. Read more about Elder Abuse.

Environmental Crime

Societal recognition of, and concern for, environmental issues waxes and wanes according to various factors and developments. For instance, recent concerns about global warming and increased costs of oil have contributed to enhanced societal concerns for environmental issues. Similar concern regarding oil shortages in the 1980s generated public concern for environmental issues, including the need for alternatives to fossil fuel–operated vehicles. The term environmental issues encompasses many different issues, including protection of the environment, sustainability, and environmental crimes. Scientific and academic focus on environmental issues has contributed to the emergence of environmental studies as a distinct academic discipline. Such programs typically require an interdisciplinary approach to address the varied nature of environmental science. Studying environmental crime demands an interdisciplinary approach that includes fields such as biology, criminology, criminal justice, economics, sociology, chemistry, and psychology. Accordingly, criminologists have much to contribute to the study of environmental issues, primarily due to the significant occurrence of environmental crimes. Read more about Environmental Crime.

Hate Crime

The term hate crime became part of the American lexicon in 1985 when it was coined by United States Representatives John Conyers and Mario Biaggi. Although the term hate crime and societal interest in it are relatively recent developments, hate crime has deep historical roots. Throughout U.S. history, a significant proportion of all murders, assaults, and acts of vandalism and desecration have been fueled by hatred. As Native Americans have been described as the first hate crime victims, hate crimes have existed since the United States’ inception. Since then, members of all immigrant groups have been subjected to discrimination, harassment, and violence. Although there are variations in definition, and certainly variations among state hate crime laws, in general a hate crime is considered to be an illegal act against a person, institution, or property that is motivated (in whole or in part) by the offender’s prejudice against the victim’s group membership status. Although not all jurisdictions, academics, or professionals agree about who should be protected by hate crime laws, the majority of such laws describe the offender’s motivation based on prejudice against the victim’s, race, color, nationality, religion, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability status. Read more about Hate Crime.


Criminal homicide is classified by the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program as both murder and nonnegligent manslaughter or as manslaughter by negligence. Homicide research generally examines murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, defined as the willful killing of one by another. Justifiable homicide, manslaughter caused by negligence, suicide, or attempts to murder are not included in this definition. For UCR purposes, justifiable homicide is limited to the killing of a felon by an officer in the line of duty or the killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen. Manslaughter by negligence is the killing of a human being by gross negligence. When researching homicide, scholars generally utilize two national sources of homicide data—the Uniform Crime Reporting Program of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and mortality files from the Vital Statistics Division of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). These two data sources vary greatly in the information collected. Read more about Homicide.

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is arguably one of the most profitable transnational crimes today. According to Farr (2005), the sale of human beings is believed to be a $7 to $12 billion industry and ranks third, after the sale of drugs and arms, as the most lucrative international and illegal enterprise. There are some scholars who contend, however, that human trafficking may eventually surpass the net profits yielded from the sale of drugs and weapons (Farr, 2005; Shelley, 2005). Because drugs and weapons have a finite usage while humans can be sold multiple times, profits for the sale of humans accrue seemingly infinitely depending on how many occasions a sale is made. The sale of humans is also one of the most deplorable crimes. Yet, it is not only a 21st-century phenomenon. The exploitation of humans, including the mass transportation of people from Africa to the Americas during the 18th century, has a rich history in the United States (Bales, 2005; Gozdziak & Collett, 2005). Read more about Human Trafficking.

Identity Theft

In 1998, the U.S. Congress passed the Identity Theft Assumption and Deterrence Act (ITADA), which criminalized the act of identity theft and directed the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to collect complaints from consumers. In the decade following passage of ITADA, reports of identity theft victimizations to the FTC surged. In 2001, consumers filed 86,212 complaints. Three years later, the number reported increased nearly 250% to 214,905 complaints. Data from other government agencies and private organizations also support the claim that identity theft has risen exponentially since 1998. The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Fraud Hotline received approximately 65,000 reports of social security number misuse in 2001, more than a fivefold increase from about 11,000 in 1998. The Privacy and American Business (P&AB) survey reports that the incidence of identity theft almost doubled from 2001 to 2002. Although recent FTC data suggest that reports of identity theft were relatively stable from 2003 to 2006, it is still the most prevalent form of fraud committed in the United States (36% of the 674,354 complaints filed with the FTC in 2006). In fact, identity theft has headed the FTC’s list of top consumer complaints for the past 7 years. Identity theft has also garnered the attention of the media, whose coverage of cases has risen dramatically over the past 10 years. The media regularly report on the latest scams used by identity thieves to steal personal information, the dangers of conducting routine transactions involving personal data, and the newest products and services designed to protect consumers from becoming victims of identity theft. Although much of this attention is directed toward educating consumers and marketing products, the media regularly present identity theft as an ever-increasing, ever-threatening problem. Read more about Identity Theft.

Juvenile Delinquency

Juvenile delinquency refers to antisocial and criminal behavior committed by persons under the age of 18. Juvenile delinquency is also simply called delinquency, and the two terms are used interchangeably in popular discourse. Once persons reach adulthood, antisocial and criminal behavior is known as crime. In this way, juvenile delinquency is the child and adolescent version of crime. Juvenile delinquency encompasses two general types of behaviors, status and delinquent offenses. Status offenses are behaviors that are considered inappropriate or unhealthy for children and adolescents, and the behaviors are proscribed because of the age of the offender. Such behaviors, if committed by adults, are not illegal. Examples of status offenses include smoking or using tobacco, drinking or possessing alcohol, running away from home, truancy or nonattendance at school, and violating curfew. There are also other status offenses that are essentially labels that parents and the juvenile justice system place on young people. These offenses include waywardness, incorrigibility, idleness, and being ungovernable. Depending on the jurisdiction, the juvenile justice system has devised formal labels for adolescents that are in need. These include CHINS (child in need of supervision), PINS (person in need of supervision), MINS (minor in need of supervision), FINS (family in need of supervision), and YINS (youth in need of supervision). Read more about Juvenile Delinquency.

Organizational Crime

Organizational crime is the violation of criminal statutes committed in pursuit of the goals of legitimate organizations, organizational subunits, or work groups. Individuals and groups commit organizational crime when they transgress not primarily from self-interests but instead in pursuit of organizational ones. Reasons for interest in distinguishing and examining organizational crime begin with the fact that when individuals commit criminal acts, they do so while at work, in their employment roles. In the industrialized and postindustrialized world, overwhelmingly these are situated in organizations, whether they be charitable organizations, universities, religious organizations, military units, or other legitimate organizations. In contrast to crime, organizational illegalities are violations of state-enacted and state-enforced rules that do not rise to the level of criminal offenses. They consist primarily of violation of administrative or regulatory rules of the kind that are ubiquitous in modern states. They are regarded as civil violations and typically are met with warnings or minor civil fines. Diverse forms of rule breaking, from the felonious to the unethical, however, almost certainly have their origins in similar organizational contexts and conditions. Industries and organizations where there are high levels of crime almost certainly are places where illegalities are more common also. Historically, the study of organizational crime and illegalities has been seen as part of the effort to understand and explain white-collar crime. Read more about Organizational Crime.


Prostitution is a highly debated term. Its common definition is the exchange of sexual services for compensation, usually in the form of money or other valuables. Yet, there are many activities that can fall into this category, and it can be argued that getting married for the purpose of having a home and livelihood qualifies as prostitution. Some add that to differentiate prostitution from other forms of nonmarital sexual activities, it must be devoid of emotional attachment between partners. Others, such as Edlund and Korn, argue that an element of promiscuity must also be involved. However, the notions “devoid of emotional attachment” and “promiscuity” are also vague. A young woman maintaining a long-term sexual relationship with a “sugar daddy” may not fall in this category, while others may argue that this is indeed a form of prostitution. There is also difficulty in determining the number of partners one should have to be considered promiscuous. Read more about Prostitution.


The crime of robbery is defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI, 2002) as “the taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.” Concern over this crime and its consequences is so ubiquitous that Daniel Defoe, of Robinson Crusoe fame, opined about it hundreds of years ago. In the more modern era, some robbers were given heroic status, including Billy the Kid and, to some extent, John Dillinger and other outlaws who robbed banks in the 1930s. The crime bridges the gap of violence and property crime as it, by definition, features a face-to-face confrontation between the perpetrator and the victim. The amount of violence and coercion that occurs in the context of robbery, however, varies quite widely across events that are labeled as robberies. Read more about Robbery.

School Violence

In the final years of the 20th century, following a spate of widely publicized school shootings and other high-profile incidents of juvenile violence on school grounds, safety at American educational institutions became an issue. The primary controversy has revolved around whether school violence is a legitimate and realistic cause for worry or panic or whether the actual statistics are quite encouraging despite some political and / or scholarly claims to the contrary. In other words, while some argue that our public schools are experiencing some kind of epidemic of violence, others maintain that citizens should rest assured that our public schools are relatively safe places.

Competing and often contradictory claims about the frequency or rarity of these types of happenings, as well as calls for legislative action aimed at their prevention, flooded the popular media and academic literature alike in the wake of more than a few high-profile shootings. Read more about School Violence.

Sex Offenses

Sex offenders constitute a heterogeneous group of individuals. The term sex offender describes one who has committed any of a variety of offenses, including rape, child sexual abuse, possession of child pornography, exhibitionism (flashing), and even consensual sex among teenagers. Sexual offenders can be adults or juveniles, male or female, and the perpetrators may be strangers, acquaintances, or related to their victims. These offenders have different characteristics and motivations for committing their offenses, and as such, differing responses are appropriate in order to accurately treat, manage, and supervise them. This research paper will review types of offenses and offenders; the prevalence of sexual abuse and recidivism; and responses to sexual offending, including treatment, supervision, and management practices for this population. Read more about Sex Offenders.


From the viewpoint of criminology, terrorism is a fascinating subject that presents a challenging opportunity for scholarly reflection on a range of theoretical, empirical, and practical issues. The field of terrorism studies broadly encompasses both terrorism as a particular activity involving the infliction of harm for specified purposes, and counter-terrorism, involving practices and institutions concerned with defining and responding to terrorism. It is the unique province of criminology to focus on terrorism as a form of criminal or deviant behavior and on counter-terrorism as social control. Criminological analyses also focus on the dynamic interplay between terrorism and counter-terrorism to offer a unique perspective in the wider field of studies examining terrorism and terrorism-related phenomena. The study of these phenomena is itself part of the historical unfolding of terrorism and counter-terrorism in the context of societal development. Read more about Terrorism.

Theft and Shoplifting

In the United States and elsewhere, theft commonly refers to the illegal taking and possessing of another’s property, anything of value, with the intent to permanently deprive that person of the item or the value of the item taken. Shoplifting is a certain kind of theft (i.e., larceny-theft) that occurs at retail stores and commercial businesses. Theft and shoplifting are two types of property crime. Other property crimes are burglary, motor vehicle theft, and arson. While there are many kinds of theft, those discussed here are larceny-theft, burglary, and motor vehicle theft. None of these crimes features the use of force against people. Common examples of larceny-theft include stealing a bike or someone’s wallet (pickpocketing), or taking things from a retail store, e.g., CDs or clothes. Theft and shoplifting are important to address because they account for the largest portion of all criminal offending in the United States. Read more about Theft and Shoplifting.

White-Collar Crime

White-collar crime is a generic term that refers to a broad range of illegal acts committed by seemingly respectable people in business settings as part of their occupational roles. There are many different types of white-collar crime, ranging from antitrust offenses to environmental violations to health care frauds and beyond. These types of crime are important because they impose enormous financial, physical, and social harms on individuals, communities, and society in general. Because of their special characteristics and the techniques by which they are committed, they pose significant problems for law enforcement and regulatory agencies interested in controlling them. Evidence suggests that white-collar crime is pervasive, widespread, and growing. Read more about White-Collar Crime.

Wildlife Crime

The United States is one of the largest markets for wildlife and wildlife products from all over the world. Hundreds of millions of dollars are earned annually from wildlife crimes committed in the United States alone, and about $6 billion are earned every year from wildlife crimes worldwide (see Musgrave, Parker, & Wolok, 1993; Tobias, 1998; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2007; Warchol, 2004). This research paper offers a general overview of wildlife crime at both the state and federal levels, identifies a variety of types of wildlife offenders, provides an overview of the techniques involved in the policing and punishment of wildlife criminals, and makes suggestions to address and prevent wildlife crime in the future. Read more about Wildlife Crime.

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