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Criminals and Victims Turn to Google for Help

Key takeaways

  • Overall, Vermont has the most criminal searches, and San Antonio is the city with the most.
  • Utah is the top state for burglary searches, and Atlanta is the top city.
  • Vermont is the state with the most vandalism searches, and Atlanta is the city with the most searches.
  • For identity theft, Nevada is the state with the most searches, and Atlanta is the city.
Man sitting on the couch and searching on his phone.

The art of doing crime

You can find anything online, from how to make spaghetti bolognese to the 25 cutest puppies in Hollywood. But not everything on the internet is quite so innocent. Criminals also have easy access to Google and can search anything from tips for breaking into homes to instructions for hotwiring cars.

To learn about criminal search habits in America, we gathered Google Trends search volume data for 67 different crime-related inquiries. We analyzed the data across all 50 states and the 50 biggest U.S. cities over the past 12 months. We then identified the biggest criminal search trends and the places where those searches were most popular. Let’s take a look at what we found and discover the most common crimes in your area.

Places with the highest crime searches

Let’s start by looking at the big picture. Which states and cities are conducting the most crime-related searches?

Vermont, the picturesque New England state known for its stunning landscapes, surprisingly ranked first with 1,048 criminal searches per 100,000 residents, the most of any state. Following close behind, Wyoming claimed the second spot with 962 searches, while Delaware secured the third position with 935 searches.

Shifting our focus to cities, San Antonio emerged as the city with the highest rate of criminal searches, with a staggering 4,654 searches per 100,000 residents. Atlanta came in second place with 4,365 searches, and Milwaukee rounded out the top three with 3,660 searches. The high number of criminal internet searches in these cities suggests that individuals should stay vigilant and informed about local crime rates.

Learning the tricks of the trade

Unfortunately, criminals have as much access to the internet as law-abiding citizens. What kinds of information are criminals searching for online? Let’s start by taking a look at searches regarding property crime.

Information about which states are searching for information about property crime.

Among property crimes, the most popular search query was “how to open a locked door.” This finding raises significant concerns about home safety and highlights the critical importance of front door security. However, it’s likely that not all of these search queries are coming from criminals; some of them may come from people who have accidentally locked themselves out of their home. A smart lock can help both protect your home from intruders and also remove the risk of getting locked out.

Even as property crime rates continue to decline, the prevalence of these crimes is still alarming. Home security systems with 24/7 monitoring have kept property crime rates tumbling for decades, and now doorbell cameras and remote security devices make home security measures even more accessible. However, people still need to be proactive in securing their home’s safety. After all, crime rates don’t decrease because criminals stop trying; they decrease because criminals are thwarted in their efforts despite trying their hardest.

As for areas where criminals are especially persistent, Utah and Massachusetts emerged as the top states conducting burglary-related searches, and Atlanta and Miami had the most searches among cities. Residents in these areas will want to be extra vigilant in safeguarding their homes.

Another popular search query was “how to hotwire a car.” Similarly, “how to break into a car” and “how to steal a car” were also both in the top ten property crime searches per 100,000 residents. Each of these statistics supports data that vehicle property crimes are on the rise, underscoring the importance of implementing effective vehicle security measures.

Regarding larceny-related searches, Delaware and Vermont took the lead among states. At the city level, Atlanta and Miami showed the highest search volume for larceny-related queries, suggesting a need to safeguard personal belongings within these urban centers more carefully. And finally, we observed vandalism searching hot spots in Vermont and the city of Sacramento.

Crime how-tos

While some thieves target personal property, other criminals are busy stealing personal information. Let’s explore search volume data related to cybercrime, identity theft, and other major infractions.

Information about the most-searched crimes by state.

Among other crimes, the most prevalent search query was “how to launder money.” This figure raises concerns about the prevalence of money laundering in America. The high search volume indicates a need for educational resources to promote awareness and combat this criminal behavior.

On a more individual level, “how to pickpocket” was the second most searched query and the most searched in Hawaii. Similarly “how to shoplift” made it to fourth on the list, but it topped the searches in Rhode Island. These figures demonstrate the need for preventive measures to protect individuals and retail stores from falling victim to such crimes.

Some of the most prevalent crimes in the country right now are virtual in nature, with cybercrimes attacking individuals, major corporations, and governments alike. In terms of cybercrime-related searches, Rhode Island and Delaware topped the list among states, while Miami and Atlanta demonstrated the highest search volumes among cities.

Nevada and Hawaii recorded the most identity theft-related searches among states, with Atlanta and Las Vegas taking the top spot among cities. These findings emphasize the need for enhanced cybersecurity measures and public education to combat online fraud and protect sensitive information and individual identities.

Searching for help

One of the most difficult aspects of being a victim of crime is knowing what to do after the fact. How do you report various crimes? What’s the chance of having your property or information recovered? We looked at crime recovery searches to learn more about the impact of crime on victims.

Information about the most-searched crime recovery searches.

The top search query for crime recovery was “how to report identity theft.” Given the alarming prevalence of identity theft, this data emphasizes the importance of proactively guarding against it and educating individuals on identifying, reporting, and recovering from such crimes. Understanding the procedures for reporting identity theft empowers individuals to take immediate action and mitigate potential damage.

Another significant search query was “how to report fraud.” Again, more widespread education can aid individuals in navigating the complex process of reporting and recovering from fraud, safeguarding their financial well-being.

Additionally, searches for property crime recovery encompassed practical aspects, such as “how to fix a broken window” and “how to fix a keyed car.” These queries highlight the desire for guidance on addressing the aftermath of property crimes and reflect the public’s need for effective solutions to repair and restore their belongings.

Learning crime online

While the internet can be a powerful tool for education and entertainment, it can also be a dangerous weapon for criminal information and illegal practices. Criminals are using internet searches to find help committing burglary, fraud, identity theft, and more. From large cities like Minneapolis and Las Vegas to quaint-seeming states like Vermont and Rhode Island, criminals are searching for tips in every area of the country—and inflicting harm on their victims.

However, armed with insight into criminal search trends, Americans can take proactive measures to protect themselves and their loved ones from crime. Investing in home security, installing anti-theft devices in vehicles, and practicing internet security measures when online can help keep your property and information safe. No matter what criminals may be searching online, employing layered safety measures can help you keep one step ahead of these internet-powered bad guys and safe from their malicious schemes.

Let’s be neighbors.

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We gathered Google Trends search volume data for 67 different crime and crime recovery-related inquiries for all 50 states and the 50 biggest cities in the U.S. over the past 12 months.

Fair use statement

Are you concerned about crime in your area? Free free to share this article with anyone for noncommerical purposes only; you must provide a link back to this page so readers can access our full findings and methodology.

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