Environmental and Natural Resource Crimes: The Hidden Threat to Public Safety, Natural Resources and the Environment

Crimes involving the environment and natural resources typically are not on the radar of local police officials. Yet, closer examination reveals that these often hidden crimes also pose serious threats to human health, quality of life, and the economy.

Someone poisoning a family member would draw law enforcement investigatory attention. Yet, when a construction company illegally and improperly removes asbestos from a building renovation, thereby poisoning the workers and putting at risk the general public, this act most likely would not come to the attention of local law enforcement officials. A shoplifting ring stealing goods valued at $200,000 would quickly warrant local law enforcement investigation. Yet, an importer of wildlife parts valued at this amount—or much more, and, thereby directly contributing to the loss of an endangered species—rarely has been the focus of local law enforcement. Environmental and natural resource criminals create direct harm and long-term risks and deserve notice (much like perpetrators of other types of criminal and harmful acts).