What makes people commit crimes?

Written by ryn gargulinski
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What makes people commit crimes?
Beyond drug and alcohol abuse, the main emotional motivating factors in crime are love, jealousy and money. (Getty Thinkstock)

People commit crimes for several reasons, but the most common are love, jealousy and money. Drug and alcohol abuse play a huge factor in crimes. Large numbers of people are arrested for crimes they committed while under the influence. Another key factor is upbringing, or the environment in which an individual is raised. If someone sees crime as the only way to survive and his role model does it, chances are good he'll follow suit.

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History

Crime stretches back as far back as Cain killing his brother Abel in the Bible. As with many crimes, Abel's murder was from Cain being jealous. While the outcome of murder remains the same, methods of murder have advanced, as have methods of torture, assault, safe cracking, robbery, car jacking and other crimes.

Thanks to inventions like the Internet, identity theft and e-mail scams have become easy to perpetrate and more widespread than ever before. Money is the factor in these crimes.

Types

A good number of "crimes against property," such as burglary, robbery and theft, are the work of drug addicts. The addicts run out of money for their next fix and need some quick cash or something to sell for cash.

Domestic violence is a huge crime, committed by an intimate partner who is out of control with his emotions. Women have been the abusers, but in most cases it is a man going after a woman to beat, humiliate and sometimes even kill her.

Murder is most often committed by someone the victim knows, like in the case of Cain and Abel. Money and love--or lack thereof--remain the main reasons for murder. Gang-related and drug-related killings are also high on the list.

Serial killers, who often pick victims at random with no apparent motive, have been known to become overcome with the urge to kill, like the addict who needs his fix. Scientists have found this condition to be a result of both biological and environmental factors. This is a mental illness at work. Early warning signs include arson, bed wetting and cruelty to animals.

Features

FBI profiling, born in the late 1970s, was a major boon to fighting crime on both sides of the Atlantic. Law enforcement officers gained new insight into who committed the crime based on the condition of and subtle clues left all over the crime scenes.

Another major step was the advancement of DNA analysis, something unheard of in the 1970s. Law enforcement can now snatch DNA from something as incidental as a drinking glass, used tissue or even a cigarette butt. Small traces at the scene are left beneath fingernails or in semen. If the police match DNA from the crime scene with someone's saliva on a drinking glass, they've got a better case.

Effects

Crime costs the UK millions of pounds each year. Costs come not only from lost property, wages and medical expenses, but the tons of money siphoned into the prison system.

Court costs are another factor when it comes to crime. Think of all the salaries paid out to judges and public defenders, not to mention the utility bills for courthouses.

Probably the biggest cost is paying the police forces around the country to fight crime and keep streets safe.

Misconceptions

Mental illness, people born with an "evil gene" and ignorance of the law are other reasons folks commit crimes, but they only make up a small percentage of crimes committed.

Serial killers and random slayings are rare, comparatively, when it comes to killings. Most murders are committed for a reason and the killer kills someone she knows. Another misconception about killers, stalkers and other psychopathic individuals is that they have to look like monsters. They can be as friendly as the mail carrier and as cute as the girl next door.

Prevention/solution

It's hard to say how many inmates get more out of prison other than hooking up with fellow criminals and learning new ways to commit crimes. Those who honestly want to change have the best shot, but not all prisons have self-improvement programs available. It may also often seem easier to go with the criminal flow than to fight against it and come out a reformed man.

Drug and alcohol self-help programmes are known to work, but again, only if the person seeking treatment seriously wants to change.

Warning

Crimes happen when an opportunity presents itself. In many cases, people who are aware of their surroundings and take extra precautions can avoid being the target just by being on guard.

Locking homes and cars, not leaving belongings laying around and not walking down a dark alley alone at night are some obvious ways to give criminals one less opportunity to find a victim.

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