Tuesday, December 28, 2004
In November, police busted a fairly successful gang of bank robbers who had taken in €400,000 ($541,000) in the last five years. The three men, who demonstrated their seriousness to bank employees with pistols, sledge hammers and hand grenades, were aged 63, 72 and 74.
“There is an increase in the number of elderly people committing crimes and we have to face this problem,” said Jutta Rosendahl of the justice ministry in the state of Lower Saxony. Officials there are working out plans for the country’s first prison designed exclusively for the over 60 set.
Why the surge in elder crime? Demographics are certainly part of it -- Germany's population is aging rapidly, so elder criminality may just be keeping pace. Germans being Europeans, they have also identified any number of social reasons.
Poverty rates among older people have been inching up as prices rise and pension rates remain stagnant or the incremental increases fail to keep up with inflation....
Experts also say that as family bonds weaken in Germany and state-supported programs for seniors fall victim to budget cuts, older people are becoming increasingly isolated. Some resort to petty crimes like shoplifting just for the thrill of it, seeing it almost as an adventure to spice up an otherwise colorless existence. Others hope to get caught, happy that someone, security personnel in these cases, is paying attention to them since generally, no one else does.
These are people who were teenagers in Nazi Germany during World War II. They need to spice up an otherwise colorless existence? Turn o' the millenium Europe not exciting enough for them?
Maybe they're just criminals.