What is the true cost of crime? According to researchers at Iowa State University, each burglary in the United States, a car break-in, for example, costs $41,288. For armed robberies the cost increases eightfold, to $335,733. Every aggravated assault costs $145,379. Each rape costs $448,532.
Then there is murder. The researchers, led by sociologist Matt DeLisi, put the price tag at $17,252,656. That means in 2009, according to the FBI, murder cost the United States almost $263 billion -- nearly as much the federal government annually spends on Medicaid.
The estimated murder cost is transferable, the DeLisi says: Any murder, anywhere in the country, costs society somewhere on the order of $17 million. That means the worst offender in the Iowa State study, convicted of nine killings, imposed a $153 million cost on society.
“That each murder costs more than $17.25 million still does not convey the true costs imposed by homicide offenders in the current sample,” the authors wrote. “Since the mean homicide conviction was more than one, the average murderer in these analyses actually imposed costs approaching $24 million. For the offender who murdered nine victims, the total murder-specific costs were $155,457,083!”

DeLisi said researchers have found “even if a prevention program is very expensive — and most of them are actually shockingly inexpensive — they’re still more cost effective than allowing these careers to unfold.”