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Opportunity Crimes: Don't Make It Easy

The following post is from OCSD Blog Team member Sgt. Eric Nester of Stanton Police Services.

On many occasions I would scold my mom for leaving her garage door open. The responses were usually “We live in a nice area and we don’t have worry about people stealing anything” or “Well, we don’t have anything worth stealing in the garage and if they want it they can take it.”
I continued my efforts but to no avail. Then it finally happened. An unknown suspect went into the open garage and actually didn’t take any items out of the garage, but they did get into her car that was parked in the garage. The loss…my mom’s bowling ball from trunk…the car was left unlocked too. Not much of a take, but a loss that could have been avoided.

I recall another garage theft that occurred when the homeowner was getting his clubs out to play golf. He had his garage door open for a brief period of time while he grabbed a quick cup of coffee before driving out to the golf course. As it turned out, his clubs were gone when he returned to his garage. The golf clubs were later discovered at the local Play it again Sports which had been sold by his neighbor’s high school son who snatched the clubs while the golfer sipped his coffee.

Both of these are examples of what is called an opportunity crime. A large percentage of crimes fit into this category. A potential “would-be” thief (not necessarily a career criminal) sees something they want and the opportunity is there to steal it. This combined with a high probability of getting away with the item is often too tempting to pass by.

So what do you do? There is a saying in police work that if a crook wants to steal from you bad enough, you won’t be able to stop them even with the most elaborate security systems. However, if you are disciplined about locking doors to your residence and vehicles (steering wheel locks have a nice deterrent effect as well), and yes, close your garage door; you will have eliminated the opportunity to commit the crime.

My thinking has always been: if someone is going to steal from me, I am not going to make it easy for them. They are going to have to break in to get it, and in the process make a lot of commotion and hopefully get caught. Yes, mom got a new bowling ball and the golfer eventually got his clubs back, but these headaches could have been avoided by simply eliminating the opportunity. You do the same.