Abstract There is a long and detailed history of attempts to understand what causes crime. One of the most prominent strands of this literature has sought to better understand the relationship between economic conditions and crime. An economic argument is that in an attempt to maintain consumption in the face of unemployment, people may resort to sources of illicit income. In a similar manner, we might expect ex ante, that increases in the level of personal indebtedness would be likely to provide similar incentives to engage in criminality. In this paper we seek to understand the spatial pattern of property and theft crimes using a range of socioeconomic variables, including data on the level of personal indebtedness.