In an investigation of a grocery store theft, police in Newberry Township, Pa., tracked down the home of 39-year-old Chad David Ryan. When they arrived, Ryan was unpacking several hundred dollars worth of stolen food, reports the York Daily Record. He then confessed to a string of armed robberies, showed police the evidence, and said that he did it all to support himself. Ryan had been unemployed, he explained, since 2009.
As unemployment climbed in the aftermath of the financial crisis, analysts were surprised by a peculiar trend: Violent crime was going down. As of 2011, violent crime, which includes robbery (theft with the threat of violence), had declined for the fifth consecutive year, according to FBI data. Yet common sense has it that when millions are out of work, the number of income-generating crimes would rise. For many criminologists, it was a stumper.
Of course, these larger trends ignore the stories of individuals like Ryan who, according to Northeastern Regional Police, confessed to robbing the Sheetz convenience store back in June 2011 and a Sovereign Bank in September 2011, He allegedly even showed police the ski mask he had worn. Sure enough, both accounts were consistent with reports; court documents show that a gunman made off with around $25,000 from the bank, the York Daily Record found.
If Ryan's claim that he has been unemployed since 2009 is true, he would count as one of the 4.8 million Americans who have been unemployed for six months or more. The ranks of the long-term jobless make up 39 percent of this country's unemployed. And violent crime actually ticked up in the first half of 2012, the most recent period for which the FBI has statistics. Robbery rates are up 2 percent from the year before.
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