Experts: Crime Will Go Up As The Economy Sputters

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Some experts still are forecasting that crime will increase in 2009 if the economy remains in the doldrums. Criminologist Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri-St. Louis predicts that crime will be up during the next year but that there will be local variations. Rosenfeld spoke in Bellevue, Wa., to the annual crime and public safety forum sponsored by the National Criminal Justice Association. He noted that violent crime may not be up in many places because “we are not seeing explosive growth in the drug markets” such as heroin’s spurt in the 1970s and cocaine’s in the 1980s.

Speaking at the same conference, economist Naci Mocan of Louisiana State University said property crimes may increase 400,000 nationwide. Mocan citied research showing that a 1 percent increase in the unemployment rate was correlated with a 2.2 percent increase in property crime. Rosenfeld based his prediction largely on his studies linking “consumer sentiment” with crime rates. The more pessimistic consumers are about the economy, the more likely crime is to increase, he said. Asked to suggest what government agencies should do about the persistence of crime, Rosenfeld urged maintaining budgets of law enforcement agencies and making sure convicts released from prison are properly supervised.

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