Last year, the average selling price of a house in Troy, Mich., fell to $292,000 from $316,000 a year earlier. Unemployment has risen to 9.7% from 5.4% in 2007. Yet Charlie Craft was able to retire recently as Troy's police chief feeling pretty good about the city of 80,000 that he helped protect for three decades: Serious crimes were down by 9.4% percent last quarter compared with a year ago -- and lower than even 10 years ago. "People who possess good values aren't given to commit criminal acts," Mr. Craft explained, "and when they find themselves in difficult financial situations, they don't abandon their values and turn to crime. It just doesn't happen that way."

— Does bad economy cause crime  

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