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ORLANDO – With inflation hitting a 40-year high in the U.S., criminologists from the University of Missouri-St. Louis are now finding a link to some higher crime rates in major U.S. cities.
Their research showed that inflation has driven up so-called “acquisitive crime,” a type of crime done for financial gain – for example, robbery, burglary and theft.
So far, crime rates across the country have supported this research. In Orlando, commercial robberies have doubled so far in 2022 compared to the same time period in 2021, according to police. Now, business owners across Florida are on edge.
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“The alarm sounded, and I learned two people broke into my store. I’m worried about how much damage was done, how much they actually got away with,” said Bo Larson, the owner of Bohemian Lair, a Central Florida smoke shop.
Robbers targeted the store back in March. Surveillance video showed two people shattering the front door to steal thousands of dollars in cash, vapes and other products.
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“I took it very personal. It’s like if your house was ever broken into, you know, your personal space was violated. And that’s the same thing as a business, your space, everything you worked hard for became violated. And then you got to come in and clean up the mess that other people made., between all of the damage and the items that they took, and somewhere between $7,000 and $9,000,” Larson added.
Criminologists are speaking about on their claim that inflation has been the motivating factor behind the rising crime rate.
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“I think inflation is a public safety concern. What the research suggests is that as prices rise, crimes, especially those crimes committed to obtain something of value, rise as well,” said Richard Rosenfeld, a professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. “There’s evidence out of New York City suggesting that the impact is present and that it’s quite sizable. For example, to date from the beginning of this year through mid-April, homicides are actually down by about 11% in New York City. But property crimes and robbery are way up over the same period last year. So for example, robberies are up 48%, burglaries are up 32% And larcenies are up 57% These are the kinds of crimes we would expect to increase as the result of a large rise in inflation, which of course we’ve been seeing in the United States now for many months.”
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According to Rosenfeld’s research, crime rates skyrocketed during periods of high inflation for the last half-century. “In U.S. history, in the 1970s and through the early 1980s, there was a very major rise in inflation. Inflation rates were picking out at about 15% per year, and that was also a period of pretty dramatic crime rises in the United States.”
He also noted a period of hyperinflation – and increasing crime – in Germany after World War I. “So, this is not simply a U.S. phenomenon.”