Over the last two years, we’ve had to endure a lot with the effects of the COVID lockdown. There have been supply chain issues, soaring interest rates, and energy prices are ever creeping up. The cost of living is higher than it has been in recent memory, and the high inflation has also increased the number of desperate people and criminal activity.
For instance, the average retail loss in large stores from shoplifting rose to over $700,000 in 2020 from just over $400,000 in 2015. According to research, inflation is directly correlated to increased crimes such as burglaries and shoplifting more than any other factor.
Furthermore, as the cost of living goes up, more and more people look for cheaper alternatives on the black market, which drives up the cost of stolen goods. This incentivizes criminals to commit more crimes, and the only way to solve this cycle is by bringing the cost of living back down.
So will burglaries become a common occurrence in the US as inflation continues to grip most parts of the country? Keep reading to learn more.
Government Policy and Crime Statistics
During the 2020 COVID period, there was a decrease in the crime rate in the country. The FBI attributed the low larceny and burglary rates to the lockdown mandates. Furthermore, a study published in the Brennan Center for Justice showed that property crimes during the same period were lower by 8.1% compared to the previous year’s. However, there was a spike after the lifting of the mandates, and economies opened back up.
In addition, since inflation started (has risen to (4.4% in July), the people committing minor offenses such as shoplifting have changed from teens and drug addicts to organized criminals and gangs. This trend has also led to increased violence with such incidences. Apparently, hard bread criminals use more force and aggression when trying to make away with goods for resale on the black market than the traditional shoplifter.
This has led to some pointing the finger at the reduction of punishment for shoplifting, which seems to be attracting criminals to retail stores. For instance, a recent flash mob shoplifting incident in California left store employees and customers petrified. It also awoke the debate of whether to revoke Proposition 47, which considers shoplifting merchandise under $950 as a minor offense.
One remedy to the high crime rates would be lowering this amount and increasing the punishment of offenders. Discourage criminals and more people from committing such crimes.
Do Statistics Show Burglary or Other Violent Crimes Increasing?
Data on burglaries continue to show that it’s not just items in the home that are stolen. Whilst an average of $2,661 items are stolen from within the home, car owners lose a further $8,407 per burglary. Furthermore, you can directly correlate the increase in these instances to some economic conditions such as inflation.
However, the 2008 economic downturn gave authorities something to think about. Even amidst massive home foreclosures and falling wages, the FBI still reported a fall in property crimes over the same period. Forcing them to rethink the relationship between crime and the economy.
Furthermore, professor Richard Rosenfeld found a drop in crime rates even during the Great Depression, when there was a rise in unemployment. In addition, he found that crime rates went up during the stagflation of the 1970s. Leaving him to argue that general hardships don’t cause crimes, but inflation does. His 2008 findings were further reinforced when in 2016 found that only inflation consistently leads to a rise in crime.
The FBI also found that most burglaries occur in the summer months when most people are on vacation, and their homes are unoccupied. Furthermore, your risk is lower if you own a home in a good neighborhood than when renting in a congested flat and if you have a security system.
In times of inflation, the most vulnerable groups in society are at the highest risk. They are also more likely to find cheaper alternatives from other not-so-legal options, which have their own ramifications. And even though we cannot blame them for only trying to provide for their families, authorities still have a mandate to protect businesses and the public.
However, even if more needs to be done to curb the rising crime rates in what are considered minor offenses. A clear distinction needs to be made between harmless first-time offenders from dangerous and repeat criminals who deserve to have the book thrown at them.
Having said that, inflation comes and goes, as history shows. So instead of turning on each other and resulting to crime, we should stick together as our ancestors did during the great depression and as we did in 2008.