This is the first book to explore in detail crime committed by the general public. Thomas Gabor challenges the prevailing stereotype of the criminal by documenting the extent to which ordinary citizens (those who are not habitually in conflict with the law) violate the law, exhibit dishonesty, or engage in actions harmful to their fellow citizens. He shows that so-called respectable citizens account for a large proportion of many kinds of crime: theft, fraud, tax evasion, assault, sex offences, business scams, political and corporate crime, environmental crime, technological crime, and mass lawlessness such as looting and vigilantism. He also discusses crime by police and other authorities in the justice system. Case studies provide concrete examples and raise crucial questions about law enforcement.
By discussing the justifications and excuses ordinary people provide for their transgressions, Gabor draws a parallel between those justifications and the ones provided by chronic or hard-core criminals. He shows, through experimental and other evidence, that members of the public are often not firmly committed to society's laws or the legal system. Using existing theories in conjunction with an original, interdisciplinary theoretical model, he shows why criminality is so widespread, and why it varies from person to person, and from one milieu to another. He shows why some crimes are more prevalent than others, and why some people are more immune to being labelled and processed as criminals within the criminal justice system. He concludes with a discussion of approaches for dealing with widespread criminality.