Crime doesn’t pay

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Crime doesn’t pay is a proverb that is over 100 years old. We will examine the meaning of the proverb crime doesn’t pay, where the expression came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Crime doesn’t pay is a proverb that means the benefits reaped by breaking the law are far outweighed by the liabilities incurred by breaking the law. The idea is that though the immediate aftermath when one commits a crime may seem to be positive, eventually one’s transgressions will catch up with him and he will pay the consequences. The phrase crime doesn’t pay was used as early as the 1860s and may be an aphorism coined by moralistic Victorian-era citizens; however, the phrase crime doesn’t pay did not become popular until the 1920s-1930s. This may be related to the gang activity and lawlessness prevalent during the American Prohibition Era. Crime was often in the headlines. The phrase crime doesn’t pay was often used in fictionalized accounts of lawlessness in comic strips, books, movies, and radio shows.


The prohibition against connecting illegal structures to electricity is one of the state’s most significant tools in the fight against illegal construction; it helps ensure that crime doesn’t pay. (Israel Hayom)

“Stripping criminals of this cash and assets, including money that fuels organised crime, sends a clear message that crime doesn’t pay, and we’ll do everything we can within our powers to make sure of it.” (Manchester Evening News)

Crime doesn’t pay, but helping law enforcement solve crimes can. (Great Bend Tribune)