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Monday, 15 October, 2007 6:12 PM
Hard times lead to a rise in crime in the city of Southgate
In the small, usually quiet city of Southgate, it is hard to imagine that so many criminals could be residing in this city. But with the current economic situation and scarcity of jobs, many people are turning to crime because they can’t find honest work.
There are two main types of crime in Southgate. The most reoccurring offense is economy driven crimes, such as shoplifting at retail stores. Also affecting the city are more serious and substantial crimes, specifically bank robberies. Southgate Police Chief Charles Castle said that there have been about 12 bank robberies in the past two years, including one that took place a week ago.
With the state’s economy being as unpleasant as it currently is, more people are committing crimes to make up for the lack of wages. With so many desperate people it can be hard to spot a potential criminal. Most don’t fit the stereotypical profile of what one would imagine a criminal to be.
“Most are unemployed and desperate,” said Castle.
According to the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth, the state’s unemployment level reached 7.4 percent in August. That accounts for a loss of 12,000 in that month alone. The increased amount of people without a job in the state raises the amount of economy driven crimes in cities, as it has in Southgate.
It’s more common now, with the lackluster economy, for criminals to appear to be average citizens that just happen to be struggling to get by.
An example given by Castle of a recently caught criminal was a man with “four children with one on the way, and no job.”
The Southgate Police system would like to be able to be more effective in preventing crime, but existing budgets don’t allow for the expenditures that such programs would call for.
He said the more the budget is restricted the harder it is for them to do their job.
Castle said that along with a tighter budget, the economy is also affecting the resources available to them, such as limiting the amount of officers available. This in turn makes it harder to fund preventative efforts.
“We are response driven, we would like to be proactive, but there is really no way,” he said.
Along with the police system’s efforts to reduce crime, businesses can help prevent and reduce crime by taking matters into their own hands.
“Major retailers train their personnel to try to recognize profiles [of criminals],” Castle said.
The need for retail stores to have some training to prevent being targeted is necessary. It is noticeable that lately people are stealing more expensive items and later selling them online, he said.
Accompanied by the recent rise in economy driven crimes, such as shoplifting, there is also a correlation between these crimes and domestic issues.
When a family is struggling and without a job, this creates more problems and stress for them to deal with, making their home a difficult place to live, Castle said.
“Unemployment often leads to depression which makes the situation worse,” he said.
According to the Police Chief, the age group of people most frequently involved in crime varies.
But overall, the failing economic situation is the underlying factor and cause of most crime in Southgate. Everyone is being affected by the state’s current situation.
“Whether you have held the same job for years, and have recently been laid off, or you are newly graduated from high school, people can’t find jobs,” he said. “The lack of work leads to crime.”
As long as jobs are scarce, crime will be present. Without a steady flow of income many desperate people commit a crime to try to make ends meet financially.
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