Friday, September 21, 2012

60 Steps Revisited: Step 50 - Watch For Other Offenders Moving In

Back in 2009, I did a series of posts covering the excellent book Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers. The book is published by the US DOJ's Problem Oriented Policing Center (POP Center). Because of the value I think this book has for crime analysts, and policing in general, I am going to re-post this series on here on the blog.

In the last two posts in Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers we looked at types of displacement that might occur in response to your problem solving efforts. In this post covering, Step 50 - Watch For Other Offenders Moving In, we are going to look at another wrinkle in your problem solving solution that of what is sometimes called "perpetrator displacement". This occurs when new offenders move in to fill the void caused by the removal of the previous offenders.

There is a great bit by the authors about this phenomena:

Natural replacement of offenders can be slow, particularly if the opportunities are obscure. But if someone discovered the crime opportunities in the past, others will rediscover them in the future. And if the old offenders were removed through imprisonment, some may return to take advantage of the opportunities upon their release.
Unfortunately, criminals can be a very communicative bunch. Crime techniques are readily communicated among potential offenders. An example in my sleepy little burg when I was just a young police officer involved the use of ceramic spark plug insulators being used to break windows in car burglaries.

These offenders discovered that small chunks of the ceramic material commonly used as automobile spark plug insulators when thrown against auto glass would cause the side windows to shatter very easily and almost noiselessly. It wasn't long before every ne'er do well on the street after midnight had at least one spark plug chip in his pocket.

If we locked up one group of prolific offenders there were more ready to take their place because an underlying component of the problem had not been dealt with, that of people leaving expensive and desirable property in their cars.

Any solution to this problem would have to do more than just remove the offenders from the picture.

If you remember my previous post on the Problem Analysis (Crime) Triangle, there are three components to any crime, a likely offender and a suitable target come together in time and place. If you remove one of these, a crime will not occur. But if you remove more than one, such as the offender and the target, a crime won't occur even if you experience an influx of new offenders.

In your solution to a crime problem try to address as many sides of the crime triangle as possible to have the most impact.

Next time we'll cover Step 51 - Be Alert To Unexpected Benefits.

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