Research on reducing crime has been focused heavily on offenders and why each one chose to offend. This provided insight on why criminals offend, how they picked their targets, and ultimately identified patterns in offenders and their behaviors. To reduce the risk of crime at your business, there are two main categories to focus on; situational crime prevention and general deterrence factors.
Situational crime prevention is based on the belief crime can be deterred by making strategic changes to an environment. It does this by focusing on how a crime occurs, rather than why, ultimately identifying ways crime can be prevented. To reduce crime at your business, much of your focus should be on “hardening the target”, which is making your business less desirable to a criminal. This focus on general deterrence is the number one way for your business to reduce the chance of being subjected to a crime.
Being a seasoned law enforcement executive with over 25 years’ experience, I have interviewed many types of offenders, whose crimes ranged from internal theft, burglaries, vehicle thefts, and business robberies. The offenders ranged from career criminal to people who committed the crime out of opportunity. The “criminals of opportunity” are those who decided to commit the crime because it seemed too easy to get away with. In other words, the target appeared to not have any deterring factors in place. In talking with these offenders, one thing they always have in common, is that they chose their location and time of the crime due to their perception of having the least chance of being apprehended. During the interview, most criminals would identify why they chose the target and also why they did not choose other locations nearby. Through this analysis of the criminal rationalization, we have been able to identify general deterring factors. Whenever a friend, neighbor, or a business asks me how to reduce their chance of being burglarized, I tell them to simply make your house or business less attractive to the criminal then your neighbors. This may sound bad, but it is up to each business to protect their business. The same way businesses have lawyers to protect their products, ideas, inventions etc., each business should implement the fundamentals of situational crime prevention to protect their physical property and employees.
To better illustrate this point, here is an example. Let’s say there are two businesses who are identical, having the same building makeup, offer the same products, and are located directly across the street from each other. Business “A” has poor lighting, overgrown bushes, no cameras, but it does have bars on the windows. Business “B” has a well-lit building, neatly trimmed bushes to see inside the business, visible cameras, and an alarm system with signage. Business A is going to be the criminal’s choice 100% of the time. The criminal will evaluate the external differences between the two businesses and choose business A every time due to their perception of having less chance of being apprehended committing their crime there.
This example is basic, but it is not meant to give the impression that simply adding some lights and cameras to your business will prevent criminal activity. A properly planned and executed crime prevention plan should be focused on “hardening your target” and letting the criminal know through deterrence factors, that they will be apprehended. Crime prevention plans should focus on the four pillars of crime deterrence: visibility, comprehension, belief, and concern.
Crime prevention on a micro level could be done by discussing CCTV cameras at your business. Cameras should be placed in highly visible locations, while also having strategic placement to provide coverage of the areas that criminals would have to pass by. Through proper placement, this ensures the criminal knows their vehicle, license plate, and a good picture of their person(s) will be captured on the video footage. The criminal should be alerted to the cameras presence (visibility); understand how the cameras will affect them (i.e. they will see my car, my license plate, and my person – comprehension); believe they will be detected by the cameras; and ultimately be caused enough concern from the cameras for fear of not being able to get away with it, that it will prevent them from committing a crime.
Although cameras make your business less attractive to criminals, we all know that cameras do not prevent crime by themselves. The number one deterrence factor for crime is the certainty of detection and apprehension. Police officers provide a clear and present certainty to criminals that they will be detected and apprehended immediately. At First Responder Protective Services, we have helped businesses across the country with deterring crimes in their warehouses, parking lots, and office buildings. Our unique business provides uniformed, certified, off-duty police officers to patrol businesses. These highly visible officers provide the strongest form of deterrence, by causing offenders to believe they will be detected and immediately apprehended if they attempt to commit a crime at your business.
If you wish to learn more about how we can assist you in reducing and deterring crime at your business, please contact us to discuss your needs, and receive a free situational crime prevention analysis of your business. Our situational crime prevention experts are seasoned law enforcement officers who can provide your business assistance in “hardening your target”.