As economy falls, robberies are on the rise

Lawton_At 184, Lawton had fifty more robberies in 2007 than in 2006.  Lawton isn't the only city seeing an increase in numbers, so is the entire country.  With robberies on the rise and the economy falling downward, experts say there is an obvious connection.  When people are low on cash, some get another job.  Others, however, resort to theft.

Cameron Professor Daniel Ford in the Criminal Justice and Sociology Department at Cameron says as long as the economy is weak, robberies and burglaries will continue to increase.  He says with the state our economy is in, there's no clear decrease in sight, and others agree.

Experts say a weak economy means more robberies, burglaries, purse snatchings, and so on.  "There are people who are going to have to make it up somewhere," says Ford.  "Some of them make it up in an illegal way, unfortunately, and that's the reason why sometimes we get this change - this increase in property crimes."

Chief Ronnie Smith agrees that when the going gets tough some turn to crime instead of a second job.  "Most people pull robberies because they want the money," says Smith.  "They want quick money, they're too lazy to work in my opinion, and the economy's bad."  Despite the 184 robberies in Lawton last year, Chief Smith says the numbers don't mean what you may think.

A recent news article reported Lawton robberies were up by a whopping 78 percent.  But, how the Lawton Police Department categorized certain crimes changed.  So, while the numbers are correct, comparing robberies in 2007 to years past isn't going to give a very accurate figure.  "It's not by any means as bad as it sounds," says Smith.

There's bad news, too, though.  Property crimes aren't likely to change any time soon.  "Well, as far as property crimes go, I think you'll continue to see that until you see a better economy, that's just the bottom line of it," Smith says.  He says property crimes depend on a number of factors - not just the economy.  Weather, along with how many convicted criminals have recently been released from prison, could change the numbers.

In 2003 there were only 113 reported robberies in Lawton.  At 184, 2007 marked the highest year in an eight-year time frame.