Spike in crimes by both teens, people retiring

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Spike in crimes by both teens, people retiring

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The number of teens booked for crimes in Korea increased by more than 75 percent over the past decade, and the number of middle-aged criminals more than doubled.

An exclusive analysis by JoongAng Ilbo reporters of statistics provided by the Korean Institute of Criminology from 2004 to 2013 shows that 51,298 teenagers were charged by the police for criminal offenses in 2004, a number that shot up to 90,038 teens in 2013, a 75.5 percent increase.

For people in their 50s, 89,935 were charged with crimes in 2004, and 211,948 a decade later, a 135.6 percent increase. For people 60 or older, the figure was 31,679 in 2004 and 76,105 in 2013, a 140.2 percent increase.

Koreans in their 20s to 40s were well-behaved over that period of time. The number of criminal charges for people in their 20s fell to 6.7 percent, while the figure fell to 15.3 percent for people in their 30s and to 6 percent for people in their 40s.

“In a society where families are disintegrating and schools are losing control over students,” said Lee Soo-jung, a criminal psychology professor at Kyonggi University in Suwon, Gyeonggi, “the statistics show that adolescents are increasingly deviating from the law.”

Lee pointed out that people in their 50s in Korea are in an unstable and vulnerable time around retirement, and people over 60 may be facing financial trouble.

A deeper look at statistics for charges of sexual crimes revealed that the same age groups - teens and people over the age of 50 - were worse off than a decade ago. Out of all sex crime charges, teens accounted for 9.4 percent in 2004 and 13.5 percent in 2013. The corresponding numbers for people in their 50s was 8 to 11.9 percent, and for people over the age of 60, 3.1 to 5.5 percent.

The total number of sex crime cases went from 13,968 to 33,939 in that same period, a 142.9 percent increase. Thefts soared to 87.8 percent, from 154,850 incidents to 290,841.

BY SOHN GUK-HEE [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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