Downturn economy and increased crime

Downturn economy and increased crime

Fact or fiction

It is the big question all law abiding citizens have: if the nation’s economy is slipping towards new depths, will crime be on the upswing? The nation’s press all hypothesize with new theories that this is a fact, but is it reality?

One thing is for sure, this topic makes for a good story in the papers and on TV. If you tracked crime and the economy together in the past, you could make a good argument that crime has risen with bad economic times. In the late 1970’s and 80’s, the nationwide crime explosion occurred during those hard times. But since then, crime has dropped to historically low levels not seen since the early 1960’s. A recent study done by the Federal Reserve of St. Louis found, “weak evidence across U.S. cities that economic conditions significantly influence short-run changes in crime.”

The current truth is that an increase of crime across the board has not followed the lead of the economy. Yes, some property crimes are slightly elevated, but overall the crime rate has continued to decrease every year for the last decade. Major cities from Los Angeles to New York see no current appreciable increase in crime.

Locally, Teaneck has not seen any significant uptick in crime either. The only slight increase in the Teaneck crime rate are opportunistic incidents that come with a tight economy (shopliftings/burglary/thefts). There is no increase in violent crime (robbery, assaults etc) statistics, both for 2008 and the start of 2009. Does this mean the crime rate will not go up? The answer the police give is, “never say never.” We watch crime trends carefully, continue our active crime prevention programs and listen intently to the members of the community. With these proactive strategies, the Police Department, under the direction of Chief Robert A. Wilson, can maintain Teaneck as a safe place to live and work.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact the Teaneck Police Department’s Community Policing Bureau at 201-837-8759 or email: