There are no new crimes

The latest in my ‘Learn Something New Every Day’ series – taken from The Great Courses’ Trails of Evidence: How Forensic Science Works (Lecture 32: Comparing Crimes and Crime Labs)

Motives are as old as humanity itself. The most common motives – greed, hatred, lust, jealousy, desperation, depravity. But many things widely considered to be ‘emerging threats’ or new types of crimes really are not. The only thing that changes is the means to the end.

  • Identity Theft and cyber-crime may be new and shiny but it’s still coming from our most base motives (greed, desperation).
  • People trafficking has been going on for thousands and thousands of years
  • Child pornography is nothing new but technology has given those offenders new ways to capture and distribute the images.
  • Organised crime shares the same traits as Government.
  • Hate Crimes have been going on for centuries when any society wipes out members of a different society to theirs, but even more recently there are plenty of examples (KKK, Nazi regime, The Troubles)
  • Cults Charismatic figures have led themselves and others to bizarre acts of sacrifice since humanity began
  • Car-jackings have evolved more recently purely because thieves need to bypass the ignition control systems of modern vehicles by stealing them while they’re running, but they’re still just auto-theft.

Going Postal

If there were two trends that could accurately be described as ‘new’ they are the related acts of ‘workplace violence’ and ‘school violence’. It’s hard to find examples in history where people perpetrated such potentially mass acts of violence against their peers as school shootings and going postal.