We Are What We Steal by Brett Tweedie

Crimes are a reflection of the period and society in which they occur. What happened, the objects and people involved, the location, how it was reported, all tell us something about the values, attitudes, and power structures of the day.

This data visualisation looks at the almost 20 million words that were written in the New South Wales Police Gazette and Weekly Record of Crime from the beginning of 1860 up until the end of 1900 to see what it shows about how people, places, and things, changed in NSW over that period. But this is not a law-and-order piece, as it's not so much interested in the crimes themselves, but rather the data in aggregate, and what else is documented in the process of reporting them. Changing fashions, new technologies, new modes of transport, the establishment of new towns, increasing wealth, all this is recorded in the gazette - along with the racism of the day - as a by-product of reporting the crimes that occurred. What objects were valued enough, and existed at the time, in order to be stolen? How did people dress, both those committing the (alleged) crimes, and the items of clothing that were stolen? Where did people live? What materials were in use? What modes of transport were used? This project looks at the crimes reported as a proxy for societal change.