In our last post, we touched on Motive and Means and the role they play in criminal activity.
We also pointed out there is virtually nothing you can do to affect a criminal’s Motives and relatively little you can do to limit a criminal’s Means to break into your house or vehicle.
Opportunity – the third part of the triad – is one that you most definitely control.
In a criminal’s mind, an ideal opportunity has 3 components: 1., Time to perform his activity, 2., relatively low Risk of being caught and 3., high Return on his/her efforts.
Ultimately, a thief will look for the easiest target to hit with the lowest risk of being caught. You may not be able to make your entire neighbourhood safer, but you can make your home much less attractive an opportunity.
The more time a burglar feels he has to enter and go through your house, the more likely your home will be a target.
He needs time to pick a lock on one of your exterior doors. He needs time to jimmy a window.
Once he’s inside, he needs time to find and identify the goods he wants to steal, pack them up and leave your home with them.
Your best defense against a burglar is to not give him time to do his thing.
What a criminal considers valuable depends, to a certain extent, on his motives.
If it is a drug addict or casual thief looking for a source of cash, it will be cash he can find or anything he thinks he can quickly convert into cash. This probably includes things like TVs, computers or jewelry he can pawn or sell.
If it’s a professional burglar, it could mean artwork, coin collections and jewelry. It could also include your car.
To a criminal, risk most often means the chance of being caught. Secondarily, it could mean the risk of getting hurt in the commission of a crime – for example, falling from a roof while trying to enter or exist a residence.
Visibility is one risk factor. The risk of being caught increases the more a criminal is likely to be seen or observed attempting to enter or leave your home. If he feels he can work unobserved for enough time to enter your home, your home is probably a target.
Noise is another risk factor. Noise draws attention from people who may not be able see the criminal working. The sound of breaking glass or a dog barking can alert neighbours to his actions.
The other risk factor is danger. Climbing up the outside of an apartment building poses a greater risk of falling than climbing in a ground floor or basement window. The average criminal doesn’t want to get hurt on the job.
Where Do We Go From Here?
So far, we’ve identified that your risk of being a target of crime is related to the criminal’s motives, the available means to commit a crime and the perceived opportunity your house or car or business represents.
We’ve also learned that Opportunity is the one aspect of a crime that we have the most power to control.
Future posts will discuss different types of crime and what you can do to prevent them.