What is the meaning of [Crime doesn’t pay]

The proverbial saying ‘crime doesn’t pay’ is the view that punishment rather than profit is the ultimate consequence of crime.

The proverb ‘crime doesn’t pay’ is an example of a Victorian saying that was meant to encourage morality and work. It was something that, for the smooth working of society, the authorities would like the populace to believe rather than a time-tested encapsulation of human wisdom.

The saying isn’t especially old – the earliest that I can find it in print is in the 1860 edition of the UK Law Magazine & Law Review:

In these hours of solitude he is led, perhaps for the first time in his life, to wholesome reflection. His earliest thought will probably be that crime does not pay.