Ingvar Nilson and Anders Wadeskog used the town of Södertälje, one hour south of Stockholm, for their research because it has been plagued by criminal networks in recent years.
“We confirmed what we suspected, that the costs are enormous, but you can’t see them at once because there are so many different actors involved,” Nilson told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.
The review took into account the costs of social services, police and courts costs, and other state-financed safety networks such as social security.
A robbery costs Sweden 226,000 kronor ($35,000), the researchers found, while an assault costs 203,000 kronor.
Aggravated assault, if it leaves the victim with permanent disabilities, can end up with a price tag of 50 million kronor.
The result of the study, which was commissioned by the anti-youth violence NGO Akta huvudet (Watch Your Head), illustrates the need for more preventative work, the report authors argued.
“The sums of money that now go into preventative work are very modest compared to the costs of crime,” Nilsson said.
He and Wadeskog looked closely at young Swedes, mostly boys, who risk slipping into chronic criminality.
Only in Södertälje, they said, there are 600 boys who risk dabbling in crime. Of them, about 50 may slip into a life of crime.
The researchers calculated that if the youths do end up becoming career criminals, each one will cost society 80 million kronor before they turn 40.
“To put a stop to this when the boys are 10-years old is cheap compared to what they’ll cost later,” Nilson said.