The Wall Street Journal has some good news about New York:

New York City is on track to end the year with the lowest number of homicides in half a century—with 414 recorded as of this past weekend—but the overall crime rate is expected to be higher for the first time in a generation.

As of Sunday, there were 94 fewer homicides this year, compared with the same period last year, marking an 18.5% drop, according to data released Tuesday by the New York Police Department. During all of 2011, there were 515 murders, a 20.6% decline since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office in January 2002.

Prior to 2002, the city hadn’t recorded fewer than 600 homicides in decades. In 2009, the city recorded 471 homicides, the lowest number in any year since comparable records were kept beginning in 1963.

Overall crime in the five boroughs is up 3% so far this year, driven by the thefts of Apple products, Paul Browne, the department’s top spokesman, confirmed. If Apple thefts had remained the same, “we would be experiencing a slight decline in crime citywide,” Mr. Browne said.

Apple has become the forbidden and irresistible fruit.

Crime declines during periods of economic downturn. I suspect that in boom times some poor people feel resentful and feel they have the right to grab their share of the wealth, but if everyone is going downhill, there is less motive for envy and resentment.

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