The Secret of Avoiding Crime

               How do you predict when or where a crime will happen?  Obviously, if you can manage that task, then you will almost certainly never have to worry about being a victim of crime.  Is that even possible?  Well maybe not completely, but the good news is that there is some predictability to crime.  Just as with real estate, one key factor is location, location, location.

               It is no surprise that some neighborhoods are worse than others are.  And of course, there is some logic behind that view.  Some inner city, high-crime areas are that way because of the highly dense populations.  If you throw in many of the demographics and social characteristics such as economics, access to drugs, poor family support, gang activity and lack of role models you can see how these specific areas become high crime.         

               But there is more.  Many criminals are creatures of habit and fall naturally into certain patterns.  Where they commit their crimes is one of those patterns.  A criminal may have found a target area that fits his or her style.  Perhaps there is lax security, easy getaways, or little chance of discovery.  Whatever the factors, once it has proven to be successful they will likely go back.  Or hit in the same general locale again.

               And bad guys talk to each other.  Often they work in groups so pass on their habits and methods to others, which can continue crime patterns.  Law enforcement has noticed the trend and even uses software designed to track wildlife as a means to track and predict criminal activity.

               So past criminal activity should be a factor in assessing risks, both on an individual basis and for other organizations.  It is important to remember that a certain target zone may not appear to be a high-crime neighborhood, but could still have a history of problems.  For example, the Cherry Creek area is considered an upper-end locale.  Still there have been crime problems as it has been the target of several high-profile cases.  These include abductions and one robbery in which the suspect grabbed a bag with a brand new iPad and severed the victim’s finger when it became stuck in the bag.

               There is another piece to the location puzzle.  Crooks stick to certain regions that have worked for them before.  But, they also want to get something for their misplaced effort – the goods, the loot!  Crooks have to go where they have something they want.

               If a thief is looking for a particular item, then he has to go when that can be found – and where it is vulnerable or exposed.  That begs the question – what do crooks want?  And the answer is – it depends.  Some want money, some drugs, some are looking for something popular and easy to trade or sell on the street.

               One emerging trend has been, however, the growing popularity of smart phones and laptops.  One study cited in “Security Director’s Report” noted that these items were replacing car stereos or TVs as the plunder of choice.

               This directly effects where crime happens.  Now a criminal may move from a parking lot or an empty house to where the smart phones, iPads or laptops are – on your person.  Even the type of crime changes from a property crime to a robbery if force or threats are used (see “How to Survive a Robbery”).

               Now a crook may target individuals leaving work; perhaps at crowded bus stations, subways, and commuter train stations or just walking down the sidewalk.  People are often relaxed or distracted thinking about work or about their plans for the evening, creating opportunity for the bad guys.

               So what do you do to protect yourself?

1.      Know your neighborhood.  This includes the area where you work and play as well.  Check police crime data or websites to find out what types of crimes go on around you.  Many departments have interactive crime maps that allow you to enter addresses and time frames to customize the data.

2.     Know your “bling.”  What makes you a target?  Review what items you carry, wear or use that could be a daily item to you, but valuable loot to someone else.

3.     Stay aware.  Do not get distracted or fail to pay attention to those around you.  That bad guy may be watching you, assessing your loot and looking for an opportunity to steal it.

Follow these crime prevention tips and you’ll go a long way to avoid becoming a victim.  Remember that crime, like real estate, is all about location, location, location. 

Have you wondered how to deal with an aggressive employee or phone threats against a staff member?  Do you have the security system you should?  Are you worried about how your business would handle an emergency situation?  There are lots of worries as a leader in your organization.  Security risks do not have to be one of them. 

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