We exploit a sudden shock to demand for a subset of low-wage workers generated by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program in San Antonio, Texas, to identify the effects of localized economic development on crime. We use a difference-in-differences methodology that takes advantage of variation in BRAC’s impact over time and across neighborhoods. We find that appropriative criminal behavior increases in neighborhoods where a fraction of residents experienced increases in earnings. This effect is driven by residents who were unlikely to be BRAC beneficiaries, implying that criminal opportunities are important in explaining patterns of crime.

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