By Alexis Young/ NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ
(Pinal County, AZ) — A stereotypical description of a criminal — a burglar specifically, would probably involve dark clothing, a ski mask and criminal interest in someone else’s bejeweled family heirlooms.
Despite this, 35-year-old Cody J. Pincham was taken into custody on March 18 for allegedly entering the closed Dessert Queen workshop and stealing food the morning before. Reports from Pinal Central detail surveillance footage allegedly depicting Pincham rifling through the establishment’s documents, eating food, taking food, and most notably, leaving his phone number on a calendar in the shop. Pincham wanted a job.
Allegedly, he told Pinal County deputies that he was tempted to take cash when rummaging through the store but he decided to leave a note with his contact information. In his alleged admission, Pincham claims the back door was open with a sign that invited him in.
Though Pincham was charged with burglary and criminal damage, several perspectives could argue that he allegedly made an illegal decision while seeking immediate and long-term relief from his situation.
Whether it was Pincham or not, the person in the March 17th security footage shows a socialized criminal risking their anonymity for a chance at stability. The burglary and the burglar's action on camera suggest a correlation between under/unemployment and property crimes that’s been studied since at least the sixties.
According to Gary Becker’s 1968 theoretical framework engaged in Ryan Robinson’s economic project researched at the University of Akron, potential criminals use legal and illegal payoffs to determine their involvement in criminal activity.
Robinson paraphrased the expansion of Becker’s theory, “Becker establishes that non-violent crime is committed on the basis of rationality, utility maximization, and cost-benefit analysis on the part of the potential offender.”
Regardless of his employment status, the details Pincham alleges check many boxes on Becker’s non-violent crime decision-maker. Yet, even if Pincham’s occupation or lack thereof was mentioned in Pinal Central or San Tan Valley reports, calculating unemployment or underemployment isn’t as clear-cut as one might imagine.
In Pooja Gupta’s Journalist’s Resource article on unemployment and crime, they cite Gary Kleck’s and Dylan Jackson’s 2016 study, What Kind of Jobless Affects Crime? A National Case-Control Study of Serious Property Crime.
“For this study, being unemployed means not having a full-time job but actively seeking one. Individuals considered to be underemployed work part-time but want or need to work full-time,” Gupta wrote. “The third type of joblessness involves being out of the workforce for reasons that are generally considered socially acceptable – for example, being retired or disabled or working in the home, caring for small children. The fourth category of jobless people are not looking for work and also do not meet the characteristics of the other three categories.”
According to Gupta, these definitions of under/unemployment are more nuanced than those utilized in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as of 2016. Kleck’s and Jackson’s distinctions aided the comprehension of their study’s results significantly.
They found that, “being out of the labor force for reasons not widely accepted as legitimate is significantly and positively related to serious property offending.”
Oftentimes classifications and distinctions for data on the topic of under/unemployment and property crimes drastically affect the project's outcome. For example, Robinson’s hypothesis assumed higher unemployment rates would increase property crimes rates. His hypothesis was wrong largely for a strange and specific reason — cars were harder to steal with technology introduced in 2000 and beyond.
While there were dips in burglary and larceny charges from 2004-2012, innovations like reimagined wiring that doesn’t allow for hotwiring caused a steep auto theft decline from 2006-2010; dramatically impacting property crime rates during the Great Recession.
Had innovation auto technology not been developed, Robinson's findings that state, “one percent increase in the unemployment rate will decrease total occurrences of property crime” wouldn’t hold true.
Under/unemployment and property crime have proven to be topics that can’t exclude nuance and neither should solutions. Pinal County saw unemployment plummet after June 2021 with a slight increase in January 2022, according to Trading Economics.
Arizona@Work deals in innovation workforce solutions, accepting workers or “job seekers” or all backgrounds, levels and ages. Their services are complete with unemployment insurance help, resume best practices, hiring lists and employability workshops. They also offer a list of “no-cost services” from recommendations and referrals to rehabilitation and on-the-job training.
Folks interested in these Arizona@Work can call 311 from in Pinal County, or (520) 509-3555, or 1-800-409-5153. Their email is AnswersAboutWork@Rescare.com.
Though it’s easy to ask, ‘why didn’t the burglar and/or Pincham call/try/know about Arizona@Work?’ It’s important to remember that people and their access to resources is more nuanced and unemployment/property crime studies and questions like ‘how can this be prevented from happening again’ yields more actionable data than, ‘how could you let this happen?’