The word “mugging” has various meanings, but the one that soared in usage from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s was pedestrians being robbed by threat or act of violence. Comedians joked nervously about getting mugged in Central Park all the time on talk shows in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was largely a new phenomenon and it was a very big deal.
As we can see from nGram, the usage of the word “mugging” in books quintupled after the Civil Rights years. The disastrous increase in violent crime during the peak years of liberalism has been memory-holed, but it was a very big deal at the time.
My impression is that muggings are way down these days. Stealing stuff for a living seems like a much less popular career choice than 45 years ago.
iSteve commenter Lot offers some theories on the decline in crime, especially robbery:
The general rise in imprisonment was likely the largest factor in the crime decline. It wasn’t mandatory minimums so much as judges who do light sentences and mayors who don’t support police and prosecutors getting thrown out and being replaced by very explicitly pro police mayors and judges.[Comment at Unz.com]
Here are some others:
Physical separation of potential criminals and their potential targets by suburbanization and exurbanation and public transit cuts.
Increase in education rates
Reduction in blood lead amounts.
People carrying around little cash in favor of payment cards
Liberalization of gun laws and increase in gun ownership
Improved police and surveillance technology
Very large reductions in unwed teenage mothers
Lower alcohol consumption
Cell phones can be permanently remotely disabled if stolen
Higher obesity and soy in young men
Videogame and social media addiction in young men
The steady relative decline in the price of physical goods that can be stolen.