Crime imposes high costs on individuals and families. Victims suffer direct economic damage in loss of funds and property. They also experience pain, suffering, cruelty, temporary or permanent physical impairments and even loss of life. Potential victims suffer fear, inconvenience, and loss of freedom and pay an economic cost for extra locks, bars, guns, and other equipment in trying to avoid crime.

Crime also imposes huge costs on neighborhoods and communities. Neighborhood businesses lose sales when customers fear crime while shopping. Neighborhood workers lose jobs when businesses and investors are scared away by fear of crime. Children lose the opportunity to learn when their schools are dominated by gangs and drug dealers who make it impossible to maintain a learning environment. Governments lose tax revenue when sales, businesses, jobs, and property values decline in crime-ridden areas.

Several studies have attempted to quantify these costs.
These direct costs include items such as losses from cash, property theft or damage, direct medical costs, or lost income from loss of time at work. It does not include indirect costs, including the costs of long-term health problems, higher insurance premiums resulting from changed health status, or the pain and suffering, the non-economic damage, that afflicts victims of violent crime, which would make the economic costs of crime signifcantly higher.