“He who does not prevent a crime when he can, encourages it” - Lucius Annaeus Seneca
It was a late evening, I went to my usual convenience store looking for a baby formula, and to my surprise the door was closed, “that is strange?” was my first thought. The lady, owner of the store was standing next to door and she turned the keys and opened the door. I asked her, “Are you closed?” “No”, she replied, “I have to close the door, because it’s dangerous.”
………………………..We have come so far that the sense of safety might be jeopardized.
Recent statistics on crime on the island of Aruba is not easy accessible and information gaps on the topic is considered a limitation; the lack of a well-defined standard definition of “crime” makes it difficult to analyze. According to the most recent figures published in the Annual Statistical Digest 2015 of the Central Bank of Aruba, summarizing statistics from the Central Bureau of Statistics, the number of crime cases registered increased by 69.9 percent in 2010 compared to 2009. Unfortunately, the definition of the type of crimes included in this registry is unknown.
Why is this relevant? Crime is like a disease, if not handled properly it takes over the body, the spirit and soul of a community. This was expressed in other words by Morgado (2013) in her scientific paper quoting Hunter (2009): “crime is like symptom of a society disease, based on different passions (envy, jealousy, ambition, wrath), and on the search of pleasure and ignorance.” The last shows that crime is just merely a manifestation of other underlying problems, a problem that we, as members of society are taking part of directly or indirectly.
This is actually the reason why we dedicate this article to the topic, as a firm, we see the need to address the consequences that rising crime can have on our society, economy and future generations both directly and indirectly. The impact of growing crime and its discouraging effects on tourism and its citizens is often underestimated.
Why levels of crime have risen so rapidly is a subject for debate, and pointing the finger on the dot is frankly difficult without proper research. However, just like any disease there are many potential factors that could be playing a role and we will try to list them in a separate article. But, before trying to pull the carrot from the ground, lets first take a look at the impact of crime on the economy and its players.
Even though studies often refer to the cause of crime, it is also evident that crime causes poverty. There is an obvious direct impact of crime on the people who are burglarized or mugged. However, next to the direct victims, indirectly crime also has its toll on other players in our society:
Impact on businesses:
In a previous news article on 24ora.com dated January 16, 2012, the Aruba Trade & Industry Association (ATIA) expressed their concern on crime rates for the business community (one of many articles in which they have expressed their concern). A high crime rate can have a direct impact on businesses, which consequently could have an impact on the availability of products and services and ultimately affecting a source of jobs. Any losses caused by theft can result into higher prices, including higher insurance premiums and as such increasing the cost of doing business. This as a result will put pressure on employment and money circulating in our economy.
Not only does the surge of crime affect the cost of doing business, but it also increases the tax burden on citizens, as the need for security reinforcement increases (reinforcement of the police force, prevention, correction facilities, and other infrastructure).
Diverting limited resources
The need for more security will ask for more financial resources and budget from other long-term investments, such as; education or other relevant ministries. This is evident in the headline news, for example quote translated: “ The minister of justice is seeking for additional funds to tackle and support the need for more preventive security measures” (Bon dia, July 26, 2016).
Tourism, single income source
Safety has been in the top 4 reasons of what visitors like about Aruba. In 2005 with the case of disappearance the young tourist Natalee Holloway, we have seen that crime can take a heavy toll on the reputation of the island. Aruba depends on a single source of income that is quite vulnerable for these kinds of incidences.
Quality of life
As crime surges, the quality of life of both victims and surrounded members of the community are impacted psychologically – “Crime victimization impacts multiple domains, including parenting skills, impaired occupational functioning, higher rates of unemployment, and problematic intimate relationships” (Hanson et al 2010). Crime if not consciously prevented and minimized it creates a whirlwind that feeds from the life of the community, it becomes part of its identity and the younger generation grows in the same lifestyle, making the whirlwind practically impossible to handle.
A call for prevention and intervention
It is crucial for stakeholders both on the private and public domain and the community in general to understand the potential consequences of (improper) inaction on crime. Studying the economic costs of crime and a proper evaluation where funds should be allocated to effectively tackle the problematic and prevent further deterioration of our society is suggested. Crime is a threat with deep roots - where morality meets economics. Even though, we are proud to have a relative safe country, we need to keep and guard our beloved treasure.