Does bad economy drive increase in crime?

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03/03/2009
I came across this story at www.wvgazette.com, and found it interesting. The economy is certainly bad. I mean, even the Girl Scouts have been effected. The question remains, however, if the bad economy is really driving a spike in crime. The above referenced story from West Virginia asks the question, "Do you really think honest people are losing their jobs in the bad economy and then making the tough decision to turn to a life of crime in order to pay the bills?" Probably not. The story points out it's more likely a natural ebb and flow of criminal activity, mostly related to drugs. However, the media (of which, I suppose, I am a part) hypes the increase in activity as a direct result of the bad economy, which leads many people to go out and invest in security systems to protect what's theirs from all those desperate people out of work. This story from Southern Maryland Online claims there is a direct link between bad economy and increased crime, again, due to people out of work turning to alcohol and drugs for escape and then getting into chemical-induced mischief. The thing is, those who would resort to crime are probably resorting to crime to buy more drugs or booze (especially once they're already drug-addled), which they would have done regardless of whether the economy was going gang-busters or in the toilet. Now I'm not complaining, exactly. The important thing about a security system is that it makes its owner feel more comfortable, more safe, so in that regard, the purchasing and owning of a security system self-fulfills, and is independent of the crime rate or the economy. And hey, the increase in business for all those security companies out there gives me something to write about for my paper.