Thursday, September 15, 2011

Even Hair Weaves Are CRAVED By Thieves

The Atlanta Journal Constitution had a story this week that looked at the trend of thieves stealing hair weaves from beauty supply stores.
In metro Atlanta, a series of smash and grabs that began this spring at local beauty supply stores has resulted in at least $100,000 of hair being stolen. Similar thefts have occurred in Chicago, Houston, San Diego and other cities nationwide where the take has ranged from $10,000 to $150,000 worth of hair per heist. 
While the thieves have resorted to brutish methods — ramming trucks into storefronts and even killing a Michigan store owner — their math skills are more sophisticated.
At first glance, this seems a bit unusual. However, if you think about it it makes sense. Last year, I posted from the book Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers. One of the posts introduced the acronym CRAVED to describe certain categories of items that were often targeted by thieves. This is the meaning of the CRAVED acronym:
  • Concealable. Things that can be hidden in pockets or bags are more vulnerable to shoplifters and other sneak thieves. Things that are difficult to identify or can easily be concealed after being stolen are also more at risk. In some cases, thefts may even be concealed from the owners of goods, as when lumber or bricks left lying around on building sites are stolen.
  • Removable. The fact that cars and bikes are mobile helps explain why they are so often stolen. Nor is it surprising that laptop computers are often stolen since these are not only desirable but also easy to carry. What is easy to carry depends on the kind of theft. Both burglars and shoplifters steal cigarettes, liquor, medicines, and beauty aids from supermarkets, but burglars take them in much larger quantities.
  • Available. Desirable objects that are widely available and easy to find are at higher risk. This explains why householders try to hide jewelry and cash from burglars. It also helps explain why cars become more at risk of theft as they get older. They become increasingly likely to be owned by people living in poor neighborhoods with less off-street parking and more offenders living nearby. Finally, theft waves can result from the availability of an attractive new product, such as the cell phone, which quickly establishes its own illegal market.
  • Valuable. Thieves will generally choose the more expensive goods, particularly when they are stealing to sell. But value is not simply defined in terms of resale value. Thus, when stealing for their own use, juvenile shoplifters may select goods that confer status among their peers. Similarly, joyriders are more interested in a car's performance than its financial value.
  • Enjoyable. Hot products tend to be enjoyable things to own or consume, such as liquor, tobacco, and DVDs. Thus, residential burglars are more likely to take DVD players and televisions than equally valuable electronic goods, such as microwave ovens. This may reflect the pleasure-loving lifestyle of many thieves (and their customers).
  • Disposable. Only recently has systematic research begun on the relationship between hot products and theft markets, but it is clear that thieves will tend to select things that are easy to sell. This helps explain why batteries and disposable razors are among the most frequently stolen items from American drug stores.
Because hair weaves meet the definition of CRAVED, we're probably going to see more and more of them listed in theft and burglary reports. That being said, it's important to know what items are CRAVED by thieves in your area in order try to tailor your crime reduction efforts accordingly. 

What items are currently CRAVED by thieves in your area? 

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