Insidious Economic Effects of Colorado’s Soaring Crime Rate

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Yellow police tape labelled 'crime scene do not cross'

Anyone who has lived in Colorado for any amount of time is likely aware that in the past few years crime in the Rocky Mountain State has soared to historic levels. There is plenty of blame to go around for this surge in lawlessness, most notably misguided attempts to eliminate the bail bond agent. But we’re not here today to talk about failed bail reform efforts. Instead, we’re going to take a close look at the cost of the state’s soaring crime rate for the state, businesses, and residents.

The Economic Cost of Colorado’s Crime Surge

Most residents (and many visitors) have experienced Colorado's crime epidemic firsthand by way of assaults, car theft, break-ins, and more. In fact, Colorado had the highest car theft rate in the nation in 2022. and Recently a public advocacy research group - The Common Sense Institute (CSI) - took a close look at the economic toll high crime has wrought on the state and the results of their research aren't pretty. The study covers a 15-year period from 2008 to 2023 with data derived from various sources, including the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Key Findings of the CSI Study

  • The 2022 crime rate was nearly 30% higher than in 2008.
  • In 2022 the total cost of crime to the state was $27 billion.
  • Crime cost every man, woman, and child in Colorado $4,623 in 2022.
  • Every 1% rise in crime equals a loss of $56.2 million in state GDP.
  • The per capita cost of crime is highest in Adams, Pueblo, and Denver County.
  • The cost of crime in Denver County alone is estimated at $5.3 billion.
  • If state prisons were emptied (as some have advocated) state GDP would drop by $1.1 billion.
  • Conversely, if the crime rate dropped to zero state GDP would increase by $1.8 billion.
  • The value of automobiles stolen last year in Colorado is more than $1 billion.
  • 6 counties, including Jefferson County, have the highest average crime rate.
  • In 2022 incidents of aggravated assault and auto theft rose significantly.

Recent independent studies have also concluded that for the first time in decades, Colorado is no longer a top 10 destination for Americans taking road trips, with safety concerns being the major reason people cite for avoiding the state. This is taking a significant toll on the state's tourism industry.

About The Common Sense Institute

The Common Sense Institute that authored the study being cited here is a non-partisan research organization dedicated to promoting and protecting the economy of Colorado. CSI was founded by a diverse group of business and community leaders who felt that partisanship had gotten in the way of responsible policy in the state.

CSI is not affiliated with any bail bond company or the industry as a whole. CSI uses proven research techniques as well as dynamic modeling to evaluate crime statistics and has no agenda other than to shine a light on the real state of the Colorado economy. That way members of the public can formulate opinions based on facts, not political rhetoric.

The Bottom Line

The statistics gleaned from the CSI study on the cost of crime in Colorado are sobering, to say the least. They speak to the need to reinforce the justice system in the state as well as abandoning ideas of eliminating the bonding company and affordable bail bonds. Now more than ever the state needs to reinforce mechanisms that promote accountability so that Coloradans can go back to living their lives in peace.

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