© 2016 John Wiley & Sons LtdGlobalisation sceptics argue that trade liberalisation has high social costs, including an increase in expropriative behaviour such as civil conflict, coercion of labour and crime. We show that a theoretical relationship between trade and expropriation exists, but the sign differs for developed and developing economies. We verify this empirically using data on crime rates. Specifically, we find that trade liberalisation, as measured by both higher openness and lower import duty rates, tends to increase burglaries and theft in very labour-abundant countries. For other countries, however, we find that trade liberalisation has either a small negative effect on crime or no effect, depending on the country's capital abundance.