The Probability of Being Robbed


A certain American has been robbed five times in 20 years. What are the odds?

This resource says that robbery happens on average 150 times per year per 100,000 of the population. So the chance of being robbed in one year is (100K/150 =) 1 in 667. Over a 4-year period (because 20/5 = 4) that would mean the chance of being robbed once is four times that, or once in 167.

Suppose you're that one person in 167; you get robbed. What are then the odds of your being robbed a second time, in the next four years? I think it is one in 167 to the power 2, ie 1 in 27,778.

For the same person to be robbed in five successive 4-year periods would be one in 167 to the power of 5. That's 1 in 128.6 billion.

So our victimized friend is an exceptionally rare human being. That distinction may not compensate him for his losses, but perhaps it will help.

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