NPR recently did a story on the decline in Burglaries in the United States. They interviewed a reformed burglar who said that people don't keep cash around anymore and that the increase in alarms means it is a bigger hassle, but the thing that stuck out to me was the statement that you can't sell stuff for anything anymore. It used to be that you could steal some electronics and make some quick cash, but when a new DVD player can be had at Wal-Mart for $50, how much would a stolen one fetch on the street? Close to zero.
When I was the victim of a burglary at my old apartment at NW 23rd and Glisan in Portland (this was long ago when the area was hip and cool, way before the gentrification that exists now), the thief took the only things of any value in my apartment: my VCR and my SLR camera. These would be absolutely worthless now and the whole endeavor would be pointless.
Over at Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowan notes that economics actually predicts this phenomenon - through an idea known as Baumol's cost disease (and once again MR steals my ideas, and yet somehow before I write about them - I have to keep the tinfoil on my head!). The basic idea of cost disease it that there are some things that we naturally don't see much productivity gains through time (Baumol's example was a symphony orchestra) while in many other areas (consumer electronics for example) we do. This helps explain why the cost of tuition at a university keeps rising faster than inflation - I am not that much more productive than a professor 100 years ago when it comes to the hard work of teaching and learning (though as a researcher I am, but tuition is reflective of the teaching part and my research is an externality). What is becoming relatively more valuable through time, therefore, are services, like teaching college students economics, but these cannot be captured by a burglar very easily.
So cheap overseas labor is apparently putting burglars out of work as well. What is a poor meth-head to do? Apparently more and more identity theft.