Stealing in a Stalled Economy

When the economy’s weak, there may be more incentive to steal, but there’s also less to take. That theory held up in a comparison of 2006-2008 theft rates in five categories for the state of Tennessee. Shoplifting was up, which makes sense in a tight economy, as was theft of motor vehicle parts—probably more people having to make do with repairing older model cars or trying to make money from the valuable metal in catalytic converters. But pocket picking and thefts from buildings and motor vehicles have slumped. Could it be there just isn’t as much money or valuable personal property around to take?

Tennessee Crimes Against Property: Larceny/Theft

Pocket picking

Shoplifting

Theft from building

Theft from motor vehicle

Theft of motor vehicle parts

611

23,706

31,313

39,442

19,193

491

27,925

30,900

39,069

18,993

486

30,897

28,617

38,422

21,175

Source: Tennessee Bureau of Investigations Crime Statistics Unit, 2008

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