The FBI defines robbery as the taking, or the attempted taking, of anything of value from someone by force, threat of violence, or fear. Most robberies involve the use of a firearm and yield $1,190 worth of goods on average. There were 327,374 robberies reported nationwide in 2015 — 102 per 100,000 Americans.
Crime and crime rates vary greatly across U.S. cities. In the Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Maryland metro area, 6,680 robberies were reported in 2015. The area’s robbery rate of 239 incidents per 100,000 residents is higher than than both the national rate and higher than the statewide rate of 164 incidents per 100,000 residents.
Baltimore’s high incidence of crime is not limited to robberies. There were also 13 murders, 343 aggravated assaults, and 2,625 property crimes per 100,000 city residents last year, all higher than the corresponding national crime rates.
There are several social and economic factors that are associated with crime. According to Nancy La Vigne, director of the Justice Policy Center at nonprofit economic and social policy research organization the Urban institute, the lack of opportunities for legal, gainful employment in a metro area is one of the primary drivers of crime.
The less residents have access to legal means of income, the more likely they may be to turn to crime. One such indicator of access to legal means of income is the annual unemployment rate. Those unable to find work are among the most likely to commit a crime, out of either financial necessity or other motivations. An estimated 5.4% of the Baltimore workforce was unemployed in 2015, roughly similar to the 5.3% national annual unemployment rate.
Like most metropolitan areas, Baltimore’s unemployment has declined over the last half decade. Since 2011, the annual unemployment rate in Baltimore has fallen by 2.2 percentage points — a lesser improvement than the nation as a whole. Over the same period, the number of reported robberies fell by 11.9%, more than the 7.7% drop in robberies nationwide.
Young males between the ages of 15 and 24 are more likely to be criminals than any other demographic group. In Baltimore, 6.6% of residents are between the ages of 15 and 24, a slightly smaller share than the 7.0% of Americans who are males of the same age group.