Criminal Justice Faculty Publications and Presentations

Taking risks within the constraints of gender: Mexican-American women as professional auto thieves

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The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact of traditional gender roles as it pertains to gaining access and participating in organized crime in the U.S./Mexico border of Texas and Tamaulipas. This paper also brings attention to the problems that exist in essentializing gender and ignoring the multiplicity of color in crime research.

This study found that introduction to professional auto theft varies according to gender. Males were introduced via friends, while for females, introduction was done via intimate sexual relationships and family ties. The study also found that in order to have a successful theft, robacarros [auto thieves] developed a division of labor. This division of labor is characterized by three roles: the chauffeur, the specialist, and the mounter. The women were involved as chauffeurs and mounters, which were low and high risk roles, but none were specialized. The most prestigious role, the specialist was only practiced by males.


© 2001 Elsevier Science Inc.

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The Social Science Journal