I've been watching The Sting and I know its a totally fictional and mythologised idea or example but what do you think, was this age of grifting "gentleman criminals" ever a reality?
Now what is depicted is every inch the criminal underworld still, people get knifed (right at the beginning of the feature) and if people fail to make money drops they'll be killed, hustles are run to do people out of money etc.
Although is it essentially different from real world crime, at the time or presently? What would the difference be if the character of crime and criminals has changed from then to now?
The prosperity of the overall society I think has changed perhaps and less people rely upon crime for a living or have to, I attribute that purely to developments in the welfare system myself but there are perhaps other factors too making the cost of living and availability of essentials of life cheaper.
Which could mean that there's no "ordinary decent criminals" only hardened villains being drawn into the "criminal scene", on the other hand if standards of morality or conscience are relaxed in every day law abiding society perhaps they are totally abscent from the criminal underworld in which perhaps there was at a time some purchase or limitation upon behaviour.
Chris Lasch once wrote about the idea of a "party of the superego", ie that either left or right political tendencies believe that an objective morality or conscience would guide most social behaviour and set standards, but that it was disappearing.