PREVENTION OF A COMPLETED BURGLARY
When we simplified burglary in the first part, we understood that Burglary simply means unlawful entry by an individual or a group into a property without the consent of the owner with a specific intention of committing a crime. Removing a property of an owner illegally or without his knowledge causes the victim a lot of menta, physical, psychological damage as there has been a lot of effort put in by him to earn and acquire that asset.
How does this crime generally play out?
There may be a variety of scenarios which come together which shows the criminal a particular vulnerability of the victim’s routine activities or behaviour which he exploits. For instance:
- A criminal finds his way from outside into a property in which he believes there are goods which can be easily lifted and transported, are expensive and will not be noticed immediately.
- The criminal ensures that there is a time in the day where there is no one present to physically stop him or deter him by their mere presence in the property or specifically guarding the property which he is seeking to steal.
- The goods which the burglar aims to steal should have some inherent value to the criminal or which can be traded for monetary gain in an assured stolen goods market which the criminal has access to and is sure to strike a deal.
There are a variety of situations in which certain people to be victims and certain areas tend to be prone to burglaries. The location of the place, individual people and families residing in that place, the status of the local community, the transient population which uses that space, the layout of the structures built in that locality, commercial places located in these places which attract outsiders into that area. These become lucrative and suitable places to frequent and choose targets for offenders:
- Places with high criminal activity and social disorder:
- Large number of old residents and their families of the particular community who had a history of antisocial behaviour, intimidation and criminal offences and still actively have the same behavioural patterns, and who are still residing in that particular area.
- A singular person who has carried out a large number of burglaries in the same area or locality wherein they reside.
- Younger generation who are growing up or grown up in the same area and who are influenced by the criminal lifestyle and behaviour of their elders.
- Local residents who have turned addicts due to ‘substance abuse’ and are in constant need of funds to fuel their addictions.
- Neighbourhoods providing cheap and affordable permanent or transient (rental homes or lodges, hotels) allow criminals to minimally invest in a staging area required to carry out their crimes in the targeted neighbourhood.
- Criminals specifically travel to a particular city or parts of its neighbourhoods as they offer lucrative targets which assure more rewards than the efforts required to be put in by them.
- Criminals who use their daily routine as a part of their process to identify, plan and carry out ‘crimes of opportunity’ while they are present in that particular locality.
- Places which are vulnerable to permanent or transient population:
- Students moving in as paying guests or into rented accommodations from outside the neighbourhood who have items which are of high value and desirable to the local population.
- Tenants who rent accommodation for short period of time in places which afford privacy by not questioning their presence due to lack of interest by their neighbours which leads to less monitoring and communication between people living in the same locality.
- The people living in that locality having intrinsic interest in the purchase of stolen goods for business or to replace their own items which have been stolen by criminals.
- Places which inherently lack social interaction and community engagement:
- Private or anti-social neighbours which lead to minimal social interaction with each other and low concern for the neighbourhood because of lack of participation in events organised by the local community (clean streets drive, fitness drive, healthcare drive etc.).
- Localities which have high levels of unemployment, demarcated as Below Poverty Line communities, and the expectations to earn high income through legitimate means is limited therefore allows its residents to engage in criminal activity to supplement or increase their income.
- Localities where the residents have less or no regard towards maintenance, health and sanitation of their neighbourhood. Such places would have old and poorly maintained buildings and surroundings areas, have garbage piled up near the dumpster, have constant water supply shortages and power blackouts. Overall, one can always find someone or the other shouting, fighting or brawling with each other at any given point of day.
- The residents of these localities are more focussed inwardly on their needs and towards finding faults with their neighbours than maintaining a peaceful and productive environment. This makes the people short-sighted and cannot pre-empt any crime or violent activity targeted towards any individual or household.
- Specific situations which are conducive for committing crimes:
- Poor building designs and property layouts restrict natural surveillance and provide a lot of blind areas and spots by a network of small lanes and back streets for criminals to enter and exit the premises.
- Buildings with terraces in front and common areas and parking at the back limit natural surveillance which allows the criminal to approach the property from the rear.
- Government allotted flats and buildings along with buildings built for rehabilitation of slum-dwellers have shared entrances which see a lot of human traffic getting easy access to the property and it is not unusual to see strangers visiting, loitering or hawking goods.
- Poor quality of security architecture such as latches and locks, bolts, doors, windows and grilles provided for budget- homes.
- Poor street lighting, broken or burnt out porch lights or corridor lights, no lights on the approach roads and in parking areas greatly reduce the potential of natural surveillance at night.
- Increase in growth of commercial, entertainment and sports establishments in a particular area:
- A sudden surge of redevelopment of buildings, new shops and malls opening up or open areas near the localities being used for sports and exercise attract a large number of young adults into an area.
- Commercial and residential areas which are developed but located near localities which are known for their violence and crime.
- Areas of the city which have good public transport system within and outside its city limits.
Understanding these above factors helps us in actually moulding and creating environments which are secure for residing, moving and socialising within these localities.
There are two points which are useful in accomplishing a deterrence to these types of criminals:
- Compartmentalisation of property and processes: ‘Keep safe activities in unsafe places and unsafe activities in safe places’, which means that normal routine activities like having meals, watching TV, receiving guests, should be carried out in halls, living rooms and celebrating public festivals should be carried out in common areas like walkways, parking areas or main access routes to the building or property. Discussions, debates or arguments between family members or neighbours should be restricted strictly to the personal spaces like flats or rooms within them like, bedrooms or study rooms if any. Display of wealth on auspicious occasions should be muted if outsiders are visiting your place to seek blessings on that occasion and they should be restricted to the common rooms like living room of the house. Any worship of personal assets should be carried out in the privacy of your personal space like bedroom, study room or any such place which is not directly seen from common rooms or balconies and only family members have access to it.
- Eyes and ears of the residents on the streets: Generally, we as people talk about politics, films, scams and scandals but never do we ask our neighbours apart from their well-being if they have seen something awkward or out of place event occurring or a stranger frequenting the neighbourhood. Whenever visiting local grocers and shopkeepers do engage in a dialogue which asks not only about their well-being but also if they are concerned about civic issues like frequent blackouts, overcrowding of streets in front of their shops during peak hours of the day, loneliness of the streets when they close shops, rowdies or beggars troubling them etc. This dialogue may be difficult to start and sustain at times but a level of cordiality beyond basic courtesies is achieved and you will get bits of information which may seem disjointed or unrelated at that time but would become increasingly helpful for your personal security if a crime situation evolves in your neighbourhood.
Burglaries don’t happen overnight; it takes a lot of time to plan and situations in a person’s life to remain unchanged which in itself becomes a vulnerability. Preparation for a crime is a slow process and its execution is faster and at times more violent than can be imagined. Therefore, one should slowly fortify his home, family and possessions by being aware of the locality surrounding these assets. Remember, when it comes to security, prevention is always better than cure!