Despite the tales of Bonnie and Clyde, there was very little crime during the Depression years, says National Public Radio. With the economy’s current troubles, many people assume a crime wave is just around the corner. Some criminologists say that’s an American myth. David Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention at John Jay College of Criminal Studies, notes that the 1920s “was a period of booming economic prosperity  and very high crime.” In the 1950s and ’60s, the economy was great, but crime rates rose every single year.
Experts say there will always be some people who take to robbing liquor stores in tough times. But those people were already likely to rob stores even in good times, making it a statistical wash. And there’s something else: When the economy goes bad, many people move in with parents or relatives, and they stay home more – both of which appear to have a calming effect, experts say. Still, some forms of crime may increase. San Diego Police Chief Bill Lansdowne ticks off the problems in his city. “Domestic violence, alcohol-related crime, white-collar crime is starting to increase,” he says. “Identity theft, mortgage fraud, senior abuse, too – people taking advantage of seniors, trying to get to their money.”