Scott Decker and Richard Wright studied and wrote a book on criminals who make their livings burglarizing people’s homes. They named the book Burglars on the Job. Their study found that most of the criminals that were career burglars stole to further their drug habits. Many of these career criminals were only making a living by stealing from others. In 1893 Emile Drurkheim came up with the original concept of anomie. He studied suicides in Europe and found a condition of normlessness or lack oh norms and called it anomie. Robert Merton borrowed from Durkheims work and came up with the anomie/strain theory.
His theory was a way to explain delinquency. He stated that when a person is unable to reach societies set goals then they suffer from strain. In the case of this book the goals of society would be money. The burglars in the Burglars on the Job would be considered innovators according to Merton. They accept the goals of society but reject the means to get the goals. The criminals in the book said that most of the money to had stolen was used to buy clothes, jewelry, cars, and drugs. They wanted to be rich and have nice things they just refused to get a legitimate job and earn their money so they burglarized.
They seemed more worried about their appearances of being rich then anything else. Their spending habits would put them in a position that they had to continue to steal because the money they had previously stolen was spent as soon as they got it and did not think about the next’s months bills and such. Some of these burglars, or otherwise known as hustlers, had legitimate jobs and only burglarized for the cheap thrills and excitement. Many of the burglars that have jobs and careers stated that they can make more money by burglarizing one house in an hour then they can make working a week or more at their real jobs.
Many of them feel that it is for this reason they are seemingly forced to commit these crimes. Some of the hustlers feel that because of their lack of education or lack of job experience they have no choice but to commit crimes. Even though they may feel very bad about burglarizing people they feel that they have no choice so regardless of how they feel they will continue to burglarize. To them it comes down to a choice of either finding a job that will more than likely only pay them minimum wage or maybe slightly more or they can continue to burglarize and make way more money in little to no time.
Some of the hustlers who have considered getting legitimate jobs were more worried about only being paid every other week and they reject that idea because most of them would burn through the money to fast and would not get another paycheck for two more weeks. Most of the hustlers want their money now and cannot accept the fact that with a legitimate job they will have to wait to receive their paychecks. The hustler’s ability to budget and save money is pretty much nonexistent. The seasoned burglars in the book showed that what they lacked in formal education they more than made up for it common sense and street smarts.
Their targets were not just chosen at random but they were watched close and chosen by the hustlers. The hustlers would pick someone that they liked and would follow and watch them. They would learn as much as they could about their victims such as when they leave the house and come back, their habits, and would scoop out their home to make sure they would have valuables worth stealing. They would come up with certain plans to burglarize the house and would know exactly what they were going after and what they would leave in the home. Travis Hirschi is credited with coming of with the social bond theory.
His theory argues that individuals make individuals make bonds to society. He believed that there were four types of bonds. They are attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief. Most of the criminals have little to no conventional ties to the societies they live in. most of the criminals have little to no real attachment to the societies they live in because they are only looking out for themselves. If they did have families they put them second to partying with alcohol and drugs. They are not committed to any bonds because most of them have no jobs, families, or real friends. They have only committed to themselves and no one else.
They may have people that they hang out with and party but at the end of the day they would not help them out if they needed it unless it benefitted themselves. They have no involvement in society because the only thing they care about themselves so no one else matters to them. This is why they will burglarize homes within their own neighborhood. The burglars also do not have any belief bonds with society. The society has morals and beliefs and these burglars did not agree with them so they kept burglarizing. The community did play a major part in the hustler’s upbringing and raising.
They grew up in neighborhoods that had no social bonds to society so the were never exposed to positive influences growing up. The culture they grew up in has had nothing but negative impacts on them. They have little to no self-control and every time they burglarize a home they immediately spend most of the money on entertainment. By doing this they may come home with little to no money that they just stole and the bills and other things that they have to pay to survive cannot be paid. It is at this point that they have to go back out and commit another crime so they get themselves into an endless circle of crime.
The hustler’s entire lives are centered around partying with little to no responsibilities to anyone else. The hustler’s low self-control put them in positions where they have to go out and keep committing burglaries or they would whine up with no money. It seemed that most of the hustlers were more worried about keeping up their appearance than anything else in the book. They revolved around drinking and partying and if they could not keep up with the other guys they hung around they would go burglarize to get more money to party more.
If they did not keep up their hustler appearance then the other people on the street would look at them and treat them differently. Part of the reason that they continually party with drugs and alcohol was to numb them from the world. If they are always under the influence of alcohol and drugs then the outside world doesn’t matter to them and they cannot see what they have become. This also numbs them from worrying about being caught and going to jail. The hustlers, according to Wright and Decker, mostly searched houses that they burglarized quickly. The only upside to this is that they would be less likely to be caught.
The downside to doing this is missed whole rooms and many valuables that they could have stolen. If they would leisurely search a home they could find enough valuables that would result in a way bigger payday than them quickly searching but they had a much larger chance of being caught. The hustlers also run into trouble selling their stolen goods at times. They have to be very secretive in their attempts to sell the goods or they could possibly be caught. An option that they have is trading the stolen goods to their drug dealers so they can get their fix quicker and get rid of the stolen goods as well.
Overall Wright and Decker’s study showed that many of the hustlers had little to no self-control of themselves. Their main concern in life is themselves and no one else. Their next fix is the most important thing to most of these guys. Their lives revolve around committing crimes so they can further their drug habits. Even though they have no social ties to their community they do have social ties to certain people in that community and most of those relationships revolve around drugs and partying. They seem to all suffer from strain and lack any social bonds.
Courtney from Study Moose
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