Preventing Crime: Never Underestimate the Power of Deterrence

We Americans are funny people. We believe wholeheartedly in preventative medicine. We believe in guarding our future finances by being financially proactive today. But for some reason, few of us are of the same mind when it comes to crime. We wait until something bad happens, then try to deal with the aftermath.

Just like an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure in the medical arena, it is also true for preventing crime. The most effective ‘ounce of prevention’ is deterrence. How does deterrence work? By causing criminals to have second thoughts. If you can get them to second-guess what they are about to do, you have a good chance of changing their minds.

Burglary As an Example

Deterrence works no matter what kind of crime you are talking about. For purposes of illustration though, let us talk about burglary. Burglary is near the top of the list of property crimes. Homes across America are burglarized every single day by both professionals and amateurs just looking for a quick score.

A study commissioned by the Electronic Security Association (ESA) took a close look at what motivates burglars to do what they do. The study was conducted in conjunction with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and utilized interviews conducted among more than 420 incarcerated burglars in three states.

Here are the most important statistics from that study:

  • 83% said they attempt to learn if an alarm system is present before entering a home
  • 60% say they look for another target if an alarm system is present
  • 60% said that video surveillance equipment is a consideration when choosing targets
  • 40% said that the presence of such equipment would be motivation to select a different target.

Why are burglars afraid of alarm systems and video surveillance? Because these increase the risk of being caught. Alarms and video surveillance systems act as a deterrent. It is as simple as that.

Criminals Plan Their Activities

The thing to understand is that most crimes are planned to some extent. Rare is the true crime of passion that just happens without any mitigating circumstances or previous thought. Why does this matter? Because planning crimes before committing them demonstrates an active decision to avoid getting caught.

If a criminal works so hard to avoid being caught, that same criminal can be deterred from committing a crime by increasing his or her risks. The higher the risk, the more likely the criminal will back off. It is human nature.

Using burglary as an example again, your average burglar selectively chooses homes. Burglars look for signs that indicate a particular home will be easy to hit. According to Vivint, those signs include an overgrown yard, unnatural lighting, lack of a security system, and more. Even careless use of social media alerts burglars to the fact that your home is an easy target.

Stop Them in Their Tracks

The point of all of this is to say that having a mind toward deterrence can be your best defense against criminals. It certainly is your best defense against burglary. Install an alarm system complete with video surveillance and you will stop most burglars before they even try.

A Smart doorbell is another good investment. A Smart doorbell is one that includes an on-board video camera and is connected to your smartphone. Anyone approaching your front door will trigger the app and allow you to see the video image in real time. You can also communicate with the person through the on-board audio system. The end result is simple: the person has no way of knowing whether you are home or away.

Outside the home, there are other means of deterrence. Lock and alarm your car when you park it at work or the shopping center. Carry a personal alarm in your pocket or purse. Whenever you go out at night, travel in groups. Stay in well-lit areas, avoiding dark alleys and poorly lit parking lots.

Remember that criminals are cowards. They are also not stupid. You can deter them by increasing the chances of them being caught. If victimizing you is too risky, they will simply move on.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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