Thieves Beware : People See You
Each year car theft costs us about ￡300 million, and burglary sets us back by another ￡150 million.
Yet the police reckon that one car in five is left unlocked, or with windows open, or with expensive goods temptingly on display. It is estimated that over 60% of homes still do not have any window locks (although that's better than a few years ago when it was nearer 90% ) .
These facts illustrate a basic truth.
The truth is that most criminals are on the lookout for a soft touch. They are not hardened "professionals" who set out with particular targets in mind, but young, inexperienced or unsophisticated.
What they're looking for is a house or car that will let them get in, get what they want and get away quickly.
In short, an easy opportunity.
Many of these opportunities can just as easily be removed. By fitting and using locks. Or by taking other very simple precautions.
And if we can foil small-time criminals with modest individual effort and cost, how much more could be achieved by working together in Neighbourhood Watches ( there are forty-two thousand already)? Or in other local activities involving police, councils, businesses, voluntary groups and schools?
More radically still, what might we see if more systematic effort was made to design anti-crime features into cars, houses and estates?
This is not a pipe dream: it's already happening.
Take housing. There is a growing awareness of how the design, layout and construction of houses and estates can affect the incidence of crime.
Many police forces are now appointing specialist architectural liaison officers in their crime prevention departments.
A new British Standard has been published. Some builders are now building security features into new housing projects.
Or cars. The Institute for Consumer Ergonomics at I,oughborough University carried out a research project into automobile security which was presented to the motor industry at a special Home Office conference.
Some manufacturers are now fitting better security on the production line. Some magazine road tests regularly report on the subject.
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