Car owners killing repo men, restaurant owners selling drugs from drive-thru windows, angry homeowners pouring concrete down toilet drains and taking a sledge hammer to home walls, and die-hard collectors are parting with their precious collections to pay the mortgage and medical bills. There's a lot of anger out there, and, the way things look, its only going to get worse.
Around the world, law enforcement officials and sociologists are closely watching the current economy-driven rise in crime. Domestic violence, robbery, theft and murder are rising, as people fail to cope with job loss, repossession and uncertainty.
In Ireland, as in the United States, economic problems are generating a fertile field for domestic violence. The BBC is reporting that
An increase in domestic violence in certain parts of Northern Ireland may be due to the credit crunch, according to an assembly member. (BBC 2-11-09)
And, worse, due to the crash of the stock market, many foundations, which fund poverty programs, have seen a drastic drop or total elimination of income. Funders have drastically reduced the number of programs they fund and many are closing shop and shutting down altogether.
Charities that used to help children, families and homeless people are struggling to make ends meet. People who used to donate to churches, food pantries and soup kitchen are now standing in line for a free meal or assistance. From the Rust Belt to the Bible Belt, charities, county and state governments and churches are trying to deal with an economic catastrophe while their own funds are dwindling.
In central Indiana, the Indianapolis Star reports that "A child mentoring program in north-central Indiana is shutting down because of a lack of funds." The United Way, a major funder of Indiana charities has seen a drastic reduction in donations, which, in turn, has led to cut backs in funding.
People are trying to make ends meet in a variety of ways. Some are selling drugs, selling their collectibles for fire sale prices, and the really desperate are selling anything that they can get their hands on--even if it belongs to somebody else.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that a Kentucky man is now behind bars after allegedly using his restaurant as a cover to sell drugs. "A Breathitt County man used his small restaurant as a cover for illegal drug sales, police have charged." (Herald-Leader)
Another western Kentucky city is also seeing a rise in meth busts, as people turn to drug manufacturing and dope pushing. Drug crimes continue to escalate, and many cities are seeing a rise in the number of meth labs. An area news station has noted a major rise in meth lab busts in Owensboro, Kentucky. A spokesperson for the Owensboro Police Department told an NBC affiliate that the rise in meth lab busts "might be a direct reflection of that (economic downturn) because it's a fast way to earn some money without a lot of input from it." (WFIE.com)
Reportedly, Owensboro meth lab busts as of February had exceeded the entire total of discoveries in 2008. Nationwide, drug arrests, repossession violence and vandalism are also on the rise.
A news report from Meridian, Mississippi notes a tragedy, which has been repeated around the nation: deadly shoot-outs between car owners and repo men. An Alabama man could be charged with capital murder, for shooting at a car of repo men:
A Jefferson County, Alabama, grand jury will hear a capital murder charge against a Birmingham man who says he did not mean to shoot a person trying to repossess a car belonging to the defendant's brother. (Birmingham News)
Agents of one Chicago-based repossession agency have reportedly been involved in three deadly shoot-outs in the Deep South since January, according to the Associated Press. The industry is seeing an increase in the number of repossessions.
With the U.S. dealing with an economic slide that has cost millions of jobs, the number of vehicle repossessions is expected to rise 5 percent this year. That's after it jumped 12 percent to 1.67 million nationally in 2008, said Tom Webb, chief economist with Manheim Consulting, an automotive marketing firm. That followed a 9 percent increase in 2007, creating more opportunities for bad outcomes in an industry where armed confrontations and threats happen every day (Ibid)
Times are tough. People are fearful and angry, particularly when they hear strange noises on their property in the wee hours of the morning. Industry experts say there is a Wild West atmosphere in the business, which has contributed to unprofessional, dangerous activities on part of the repo agents.