Plaid-collar crime

Plaid-collar crime is an act of theft or related criminal offence that directly affects farm workers, such as the theft of produce or farm stock and equipment. Although "plaid-collar crime" (Rural Commodity Theft) isn't a recognised criminal exercise, it has become increasingly evident in the farming communities of the United States and United Kingdom. Recently the unlawful acquisitions of rural commodities such as nuts, fruit, vegetables, artichokes, trees, tree bark, timber, cattle and diesel. The estimated cost of "plaid-collar crime" on the American economy is in excess of USD$10 billion costing the average American taxpayer USD$33 in procured items.[citation needed] Whilst in comparison to other forms of criminal activity most such crimes seem minuscule, rural crime puts a strain on an economy by increasing prices of item in demand after a lack of availability because of such crimes. Several commodities are particularly in demand because their prices are increasing. Almond prices jumped 70 cents a pound in mid-2007, and beef prices remain high. Prices for high-grade lumber continue to climb. And rural backwoods areas have been hit by the copper theft epidemic across the United States after prices peaked at USD$2.80 a pound mid-2006.[1]

Timber theft is proving to be increasingly popular among thieves because of the rising prices of lumber and furniture.

In 2006, Texas investigators recovered more than 5,000 stolen cattle worth more than USD$3.5 million. Twelve tractor-trailers carrying almonds have been stolen in California in 2007.[1]

In the United Kingdom

"Plaid-collar crime" affects more countries than just the United States. Crime statistics in the United Kingdom suggest that:

The report notes a pattern in burglary rates common to urban, suburban and rural areas - which increased until the mid 1990s and have subsequently declined. A significant rise in burglary rates in rural areas until 1995 is reflected in rural respondents' levels of concern about the crime. 19 per cent were 'very worried' about burglary in 1994, but this fell to only 11 per cent in 2001. Levels of concern about other crimes, such as mugging, racial attack or being physically assaulted are also significantly statistically lower than they are in non-rural areas.[2]

Relationship to other types of crime

Blue-collar crime

The types of crime committed are a function of the opportunities available to the potential offender. Thus, those employed in relatively unskilled environments and living in inner-city areas have fewer "situations" to exploit (see Clarke: 1997) than those who work in "situations" where large financial transactions occur and live in areas where there is relative prosperity. Note that Newman (2003) applies the Situational Crime Prevention strategy to e-crime where the opportunities can be more evenly distributed between the classes. Blue-collar crime tends to be more obvious and attract more active police attention (e.g. for crimes such as vandalism or shoplifting which protect property interests), whereas white-collar employees can intermingle legitimate and criminal behavior and be less obvious when committing the crime. Thus, blue-collar crime will more often use physical force whereas white-collar crime will tend to be more technical in nature, e.g. in the manipulation of accountancy or inventory records. In victimology, blue-collar crime attacks more obvious victims who report the crime, whereas in the corporate world, the identification of a victim is less obvious and the issue of reporting is complicated by a culture of commercial confidentiality to protect shareholder value. It is estimated that a great deal of white collar crime is undetected or, if detected, it is not reported.

Corporate crime

The distinction is that plaid-collar crime is likely to be a crime against the labourers, whereas corporate crime is crime committed by the corporation, although the distinction blurs when the given crime promotes the interests of the labourers and its senior employees because a business entity can only act through the agency of the natural persons whom it employs (see corporate liability).

State crime

In terms of social class and status, those employed by the state, whether directly or indirectly, are more likely to be white-collar and so more state crime will be committed through the agency of white-collar employees.


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