USC researcher finds common characteristics between young and old criminals

Columbia (WACH)--The saying "With age comes wisdom" may not always be true.

USC Assistant Criminology Professor Scott Wolfe has been trying to find out if senior citizens have the same characteristics to commit crimes as young people.

"Those theories are tested using teenagers or young adults", Wolfe said. "Largely because those individuals commit most crimes. What we don't understand is whether those theories, those same causes of crime apply to older people."

The former Arizona State University professor studied 2,000 seniors in Arizona and Florida over the last two years. While he said incidents involving the elderly are extremely rare, those that do offend have some of the same characteristics as young people.

"Low self control, impulsivity, the inability to delay gratification. Those personality characteristics predict offending among older populations."

According to the research, the main acts include traffic violations and driving under the influence.

"It may be something particular about these activities," Wolfe said. "For instance, drinking on the golf course, socializing with friends, having the peer influence in these type of opportunities for crime."

A spokesperson for the State Law Enforcement Division told WACH Fox that in 2010, about 1% of crimes in the Palmetto State were committed by seniors. Wolfe reiterates that incidents among the elderly are rare and have been steady over the last 20 years.