40% of Americans consider organized crime a bigger threat to public safety than terrorism, while many consider Chicago the city with the worst organized crime problem.
Last week, James "Whitey" Bulger, the notorious criminal and Boston mob boss, was sentenced to two life sentences and five years, to be served consecutively, for murdering at least 11 people. The case has drawn public attention to the wider problem of organized crime in the United States, which has been less prominent now that strict federal 'RICO' laws made it increasingly difficult for mob bosses to avoid prosecution and lengthy jail sentences.
The latest YouGov research shows that young people consider organized crime, rather than terrorism, as the bigger threat to public safety. Attitudes change among over-45s, with the majority (52%) of those aged 65 or over maintaining that terrorism is the bigger issue. While Democrats (50%) and Republicans (59%) tend to agree with older Americans, Independents believe that organized crime (45%) is more of a threat than terrorism (35%).
Younger people may regard organized crime as a bigger threat than terrorism, but older people have greater worries about the power of the mob over politicians. A majority (52%) of those aged 18-29 think that crime syndicates' influence on politicians is not that serious, figures that drop to around a third of people when looking at the opinions of those over the age of 45.
Americans named Chicago as the city with the greatest organized crime problem, out of a list of major American cities. Just over 1 in 3 Americans think that Chicago has the greatest problem - 17% ahead of the runner up, New York City.
Most Americans (75%) consider organized crime to be a serious problem in the United States, with 31% calling it "very serious".
The popular image of organized crime may have changed little since the era of powerful Italian mobsters, but the FBI warns that domestic organized crime today is often dominated by Russian, African or Asian gangs.
Full poll results can be found here.