Crime Doesn’t Pay

Meanings of “Crime Doesn’t Pay”

The phrase “crime doesn’t pay” means that crime or any illegal methods of earning is not a profitable venture, or rather it is never beneficial. Its implied meaning is that it always invites punishment. A criminal always has to bear the consequence of his/her actions.

Origin of “Crime Doesn’t Pay”

The phrase “crime doesn’t pay” is stated to have originated in the Victorian period to encourage officials and the public to stick to that time’s moral framework to reduce crime rates. Its earliest recorded citation has been found in UK Law Magazine in its edition published in 1860. It goes thus; “In these hours of solitude, he is led, perhaps for the first time in his life, to wholesome reflection. His earliest thought will probably be that crime does not pay.”

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Crime Doesn’t Pay by Randy Johnson

I used to have freedom but now I’m locked in the Tank.
I was sentenced to twenty years after I robbed a bank.
I had the dream of being a college graduate but it didn’t come to fruition.
The reason why I robbed that bank was to get money for the tuition.
Now my dreams of being a college graduate are dead.
I have many years of incarceration and misery ahead.
I thought I could get away with it but I underestimated the Police.
Maybe if I’m on my best behavior, my sentence will be decreased.
Believe me when I tell you that crime doesn’t pay.
Don’t steal if you need money, find a better way.

The poet has presented not only his criminal details but also the actions in this first-person poetic rendering of his bank robbery. The speaker loses his freedom after he robs a bank to get money for his tuition fees for graduation. Languishing in misery and incarceration, the speaker states that he has now realized that it is useless to become rich through a crime. He uses the phrase in the second last line to stress upon finding some other way to get money. Therefore, it seems to be an extended metaphor with a touch of irony and humor.

Example #2

Crime Doesn’t Pay: The Rise and Fall of a Street Boss by Nathan White

This story is about an extraordinary African American businessman who succeeded merely by his grits and the help of his family after God. Despite living in Philly’s streets, he won respect and honor in the town, which a few of the townspeople have ever achieved. On the contrary, most of his youth period was spent in the street fighting and petty crimes. His entire life seems to support this phrase that crime does not pay and that a person has to work hard to earn money. Thus, this phrase has been presented as a metaphorical extension through this story.

Example #3

The Stock Market Philosopher: Insights of a Soviet-born, New York-bred Hedgeby Gennady Favel

Think of the expression “crime doesn’t pay.” If you don’t know any criminals personally, then all of the information about criminals you’ve ever heard has likely been from media, and this is likely because the criminals in question were caught. Based on that evidence it certainly does seem that crime does not pay. But what about all the criminals who have been caught.

The author states that if you have heard this phrase, it implies that it happens only in the real world that a person committing a crime is always caught. However, if you believe the hedge stories and market successes of hoodwinking the law, they are just media stories that are anything but true. All criminals are caught at some point in their lives.

Example #4

The Society We Live In, Volume 1 by Jack L. Brooks Jr.

The good thing about “Hell” is that it isn’t a lonely place, but “The Pain” is “Eternal” that’s the worst thing! They say that crime doesn’t pay? Whoever coined that phrase was a liar, crime pays in ways that you can’t “imagine”, but the reward for it isn’t one that anyone would want, if they only knew the price of the sum for it.

Not only does the author argue the coining of this phrase, but also sheds light on its literal meanings. He says that an ordinary person cannot imagine how it pays in the long run and how some people reap the fruits of their crimes. However, it generally happens that it does not pay, but it is not always true.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “Matthew has gained nothing after committing robberies and conning for 25 years, which is proof to his family that crime doesn’t pay.”

Example #2: “When Berkley was arrested for his robbery of the Queen’s necklace, he realized how crime does not pay. His millions worth of robbery couldn’t get him out of jail or live the life he dreamed of.”

Example #3: “After wasting three years in the force, Horace came to do petty jobs of plundering the people and hoodwinking the simpletons. However, he did not reap  its benefits, for a crime does not pay.”

Example #4: “After serving ten years in jail, Julian realized that crime doesn’t pay and that he needed to live an honest life to survive.”

Example #5: “Mary saw her husband being arrested and taken to the jail for a robbery he had committed for her surgery. She wept and understood that crime does not pay, no matter how good of a reason you have.”