7 Tips to Shut Down Crimes of Opportunity on Your Street
Recent posts on neighborhood communication tools like NextDoor and Facebook reveal people waking in the morning to discover thieves have rifled through their cars during the night and taken items.
Replies to these posts indicate others on the same street or nearby experienced the same thing on the same night! The common thread almost every time is that the car doors were left unlocked overnight.
Crimes of opportunity have been of interest to researchers for years. Especially since the increase in personal electronics created an increased temptation factor for theft.
In 1998, Marcus Felson and Ronald Clarke published “Opportunity Makes the Thief.” The story outlined some theories of how opportunity can influence crime in certain situations.
According to Felson and Clarke, these opportunists are looking for targets that offer high benefit but with minimal risk or trouble on their part.
To battle these crimes of opportunity, we must:
- Remove the temptation.
- Increase the perceived risk for the criminal.
- Prevent easy access.
Here are seven things you can do to ensure your street and neighborhood are undesirable hunting grounds for these thieves.
Criminals prefer the anonymity of near-darkness. Neighborhoods can deter nighttime trolling with well-lit streets and homes.
If your area doesn’t have street lights, residents can add pole lights, sconces or yard lights to keep their property and the street illuminated.
Motion sensor lighting is energy efficient with the benefit of “startling” a would-be prowler when it activates.
These low-level criminals typically have not escalated to breaking windows to get into the parked vehicles. They simply walk up and down the street casually trying the door handles on all accessible vehicles.
Your #1 defense is also the simplest … lock your vehicle and lock your garage.
Even if you feel like there is nothing valuable in your car, don’t invite these thieves onto your property and into your car with an unlocked door.
Don’t leave valuable items or even coins where they are visible in the vehicle.
According to an article on cnn.com,
“The evidence alone might be enough to pique the interest of thieves, so hide that too, including power plugs, telltale aux cables, or nav-system windshield suction-cup mounts, and even put the cigarette lighter back in place.”
If possible, park your car in the garage.
If the garage isn’t an option or if you have multiple vehicles, parking them on the driveway pulled up as far as possible helps to prevent these routine strolling door handle checks.
Cars parked on the street will be the easiest targets.
5. Security Patrol
Many communities have a security patrol that drives through the neighborhood on a schedule to keep a close check on the residents and their property.
A visible security presence will make the thieves think twice about coming into the neighborhood.
6. Security Cameras
Criminals may pass right by a home that has visible security cameras installed outside the house.
It’s not worth the risk of being identified on camera as many cameras now have infrared capabilities that capture good images at night.
Even a video doorbell can be used to help identify unknown people on the street at night or capture images of people in your yard or driveway.
Be suspicious of solicitors who seem out of place. If they don’t have any materials (or the materials seem homemade), aren’t wearing branded clothing or come by at unusual hours (like late in the evening), they are likely not really there for what they claim.
They may be “casing” the street to see who parks outside, who leaves the garage open and so on.