Burglaries usually rise in a recession, but not this one

I noticed some surprisingly good news in the annual report from the city where I live in the San Francisco Bay Area -- crime has dropped. I say surprisingly because in a recession, I'd expect crime to increase as more people lose their jobs and have to find other ways -- some illegal -- to make money.

It turns out my suburban city isn't alone. Large and small cities across the country are seeing crime drop -- particularly burglaries -- during the recession. "With a lot more unemployed people, a lot more people are staying home, and they see more in their neighborhood," Sgt. Thomas Lasater of the police department in St. Louis County, Mo., told the Associated Press.

Lasater, who supervises the burglary unit, has seen burglaries drop 35% in the first six months of 2009.

He makes a good point. I'm home almost all of the time since being laid off last year, and I do notice if suspicious people are in my neighborhood.

Crime, especially property crime, typically rises during a recession, sociologist Richard Rosenfeld told AP. "We've see that in every single recession in the U.S. at least since the '50s," Rosenfeld told AP. "I would have expected by now some upward movement in burglary numbers."

Unfortunately, the recession isn't leading to all crime dropping, at least overseas. In the United Kingdom, shoplifting has surged to record levels as the recession has caused more middle-class people to shoplift to maintain their standard of living, the BBC reports.

And in Ireland, the recession is being blamed for more people driving off without paying for gas.

Maybe they should give the unemployed jobs at gas stations to keep any eye out for the "drive off" criminals.
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