Opportunity plays a big role in enabling people to commit crime, and never more so than burglaries. Most domestic burglaries are committed by ‘opportunists’. Criminals will look for homes that:
- Seem unoccupied
- Have little or no obvious security
- Have doors or windows left open, or
- Where they think they won’t be seen.
One crime often produces the opportunity to commit another – for example, a successful break-in may encourage the burglar to return again in the near future, because they know when the householders are out and expect the property to be full of shiny new replacement goods.
Social and technological changes produce new crime opportunities – products are most vulnerable in their growth stages, when demand for them is at its highest. Most products will reach a saturation stage where most people have them and so the price of second-hand versions becomes so low as to make the risk of getting caught too high. At that point, they are unlikely to be stolen.
Impact of Neighbourhood Watch
While this information pack will give you lots of tips about physical tools you can use to protect your property, it’s also worth bearing in mind that being part of a Neighbourhood Watch scheme also brings benefits in terms of reducing crime.
A review by the College of Policing of a number of research projects has shown that Neighbourhood Watch programmes that incorporate property marking and home security surveys – known as Neighbourhood Watch Plus – are effective at reducing crime by between 16 and 26 per cent. This was found to be true in both deprived areas and more affluent ones.
The review also found that Neighbourhood Watch was just as effective in newer schemes as in those that were established some time ago. Neighbourhood Watch therefore remains an effective crime prevention tool, particularly against burglary. This may be because Neighbourhood Watch schemes:
- Increase surveillance
- Alter offenders’ perception of risk, if an area is clearly marked as a Neighbourhood Watch area
- Alter the behaviour of residents, by encouraging them to consciously consider their own home security measures, and
- Encourage other forms of social interaction and neighbourhood cohesion among communities.
Make sure that if there is a Neighbourhood Watch scheme operating in your community, there are signs making people aware of it.