Jack Simpson - Economy emboldens criminals

This is a period in our American history when we face many domestic and

global challenges. Our economy is causing grave concerns for many of our

citizens. The economy can, and often does, shape behavior.

Those who read news reports know we are facing problems in many areas of our

community. Right in our own local neighborhoods, the economy has caused the

bad guys to take to the streets looking for victims. Too many have lost

their jobs, homes, and a sense of security. They have turned to theft to

meet their needs.

Some neighborhood problems are caused by people who are unemployed, have

alcohol or drug problems, or are professional thieves. Other crimes are

committed by neighborhood children who are ungovernable, truant, or

unsupervised. Some teens travel in small groups or gangs and trespass on

private property displaying delinquent behavior.

Every day we read about thieves entering homes and automobiles stealing

anything of value that can be sold or turned into ready cash.

Knowing that such crimes are ongoing, it is hard to understand why some

people are still leaving their wallets, credit cards, cash, cell phones,

computers and jewelry in automobiles which are sometimes unlocked with the

items in plain view!

Identity theft is becoming more common, so wallets with drivers licenses and

credit cards in parked vehicles are popular targets for these thieves.

A blue pickup truck pulls up to a convenience store gas pump. A young female

goes inside asking the attendant if she can pay after filling up her tank.

The trusting clerk agrees and the young woman pumps $45 worth of gas and

drives off. This is all too common in today's economy. Looks like it is

becoming more difficult to trust people, even young ladies!

Vulnerable people display their weaknesses, anxieties and compulsions. They

give in to temptations and get into trouble with the law.

A nice, young, hard-working couple purchases a new home in one of our

developing neighborhoods. They move in and set up housekeeping. They put

lawn furniture, a grill and a new lawnmower on the back patio. When

awakening the next morning, they find their property has been stolen and

their car parked in the driveway has been spray painted.

Finding their property stolen is bad enough, but learning they have moved

into a home and neighborhood where the forces of evil reign and there exists

a pattern of criminal and delinquent behavior is depressing and


Many infractions of our laws are being met within budgetary limitations by

law enforcement, courts and correctional institutions. Schools, churches,

families and ordinary citizens also must share in the responsibility for

solutions to the crime problem. Despair is not the answer. A unity of action

is required. Fighting crime must be a top priority. James Harrington has

told us "the law is but words and paper without the hands and swords of


Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and a law enforcement

officer. His column appears each Friday.