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The Rise of the 74-Year-Old Jewelry Thief

A report in Bloomberg traced the rise of elderly crime in Britain, other European countries, and Asian nations. The police arrested nine suspects in London in connection with a jewelry heist. The police assumed they were looking for a master criminal, but when they made the arrests, they were shocked to discover that two of the thieves were in their mid-seventies. In fact, at their preliminary hearing " … a 74-year-old suspect said he couldn't understand a clerk's questions because he was hard of hearing."

Experts point to the rise of loneliness and poverty among the elderly. For instance, in South Korea, where elderly crime has risen by 12 percent, 45 percent of those over 65 live below the poverty line. Three German men in their sixties and seventies, known as the "Opa Bande" ("Grandpa Gang"), testified they were trying to top off their pension benefits.

Bas van Alphen, a psychology professor at Free University of Brussels says, concerning loneliness, "Older people may also commit crimes because they feel isolated. I had one patient who stole candies to handle the hours of loneliness every day."


Carol Matlack, “Instead of Playing Golf, the World's Elderly Are Staging Heists and Robbing Banks,” Bloomberg (5-28-15)

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