A recent copy of the local newspaper contained about a dozen pages of "Sales under Power." Global stock markets are going wild and the economy is on the minds of the people. We lost 17,000 jobs in one month.
As the economy slows down, foreclosures rise. Empty houses, job layoffs, higher fuel costs, the decline of the dollar brings trouble.
Out here in the real world, thieves are coming out of the woodwork. Empty houses are being broken into and vandalized for copper pipes, air conditioners/condensers, and anything else that can be sold for cash. Vandals are trashing new and repossessed houses, flooding them, kicking holes in the walls and causing property losses.
Hard-working citizens go to the grocery store and come out into the parking lot to find their cars broken into. License plates, radios, computers, cell phones are gone and often the vehicle itself is gone. Drug dealers are active in areas with vacant property and gangs roam some of the streets.
The media reports incidents of citizens receiving threatening calls, children being molested, personal identification being stolen, fraud and forgery. Drive offs without paying for gasoline fill ups are more common.
Our efficient, professional State Court judge, Nancy Bills, was recently quoted as saying, "continued growth in Rockdale County has resulted in ever expanding caseloads ... throughout the judicial system."
There is no doubt more crimes are being committed here and in adjacent counties in areas of greatest opportunity. Crimes against property seem to increase when conditions in the economy are favorable and where people live in closer proximity. Vacant houses in neighborhoods help thieves achieve greater anonymity.
The aggressive, selfish traits being displayed by some of the local bad guys might have been of value to men long ago who lived in caves and trees. These anti-social traits do not serve well today in a world of family residences and law-abiding citizens.
We have some very good moral and physical agencies in our area capable of handling crimes of larceny, forgery, theft, robbery and the like. Good work is being done.
Coming before our courts are many individuals with bad attitudes, weaknesses, and no worthwhile goals. A poor economy puts pressure on these people that they cannot meet without breaking the law. To satisfy their needs, some individuals give in to temptations, steal, carry firearms, drive without licenses, abandon their children, violate probation, damage and destroy property, issue bad checks, murder and who knows what else. They commit all manner of crimes.
The fading away of the American dream has driven some among us to take drastic measures to compensate for shortcomings. Others are just plain mean and hateful and make society the victim of their frustrations. What is happening to our morals and our respect for one another?
The oil rich nations such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are selling oil to dependent countries like the United States. These nations are buying up our assets, shifting the global economy. Observers tell us that the oil rich nations, China, India and Brazil are experiencing robust growth as our power wanes.
Judge Nancy Bills' observation will probably be even more true next year, or so long as our economy declines. Those with contempt for the law will continue turning to theft and violence as a way to satisfy their unmet needs.
Those who pity the criminal because of economic circumstances must also pity the community and the nation.
Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author, and law enforcement officer. His column appears each Sunday.