Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hit Products Often Come With A Price

It seems like at least once a year, Apple Computer comes out with a hot new product that has people lined up outside the local Apple Store. Recently it was for the latest iteration of the iPhone. Of course with this popularity with consumers comes a more nefarious popularity. There was a story over at the tech news site CNET that looked at just how popular iOS devices have become with thieves in New York City.
The latest data from the New York City Police Department shows that iPhone and iPad thefts have soared 40 percent this year so far, compared with the same period last year.

Between January 1 and September 23 of this year, a total of 11,447 cases of stolen iDevices were reported to the New York City police, a rise of 3,280 over 2011, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said in a report sent to CNET.
In crime analysis, when a product becomes the frequent target of thieves, they are often referred to by the acronym CRAVED. This stands for:
  • 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 (see box).
  • 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.
If you know the items that are CRAVED in your jurisdiction or what the next hot gadget will be, you can focus your efforts on preventing or reducing the crimes that target these items.  NYPD is focusing some of their resources on helping people to avoid becoming a victim of thieves targeting these devices such as with this video.


What is your agency doing to reduce the number of thefts associated with these CRAVED items?

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