When you hear the phrase “Crime Triangle,” what pops into your head? Well, I am embarrassed to admit that many years ago when I first heard the expression, my mind immediately wandered to a law-breaking version of the storied Bermuda Triangle. I imagined a shadowy, irrational place filled with Boogeyman-type tales of misdeeds and chaos where the famed horror writer Stephen King would have been completely in his element. As it turns out, the true definition is much less sinister and much more relevant to our daily lives.
The concept of a Crime Triangle is actually based on the philosophy that a criminal’s desire, ability, and an associated opportunity combine to create an environment that allows crime to occur.
The corresponding concept of crime prevention explains that when we understand how to interrupt this process, we can often significantly decrease our chances of becoming potential victims. In other words, if we can remove one of the legs of the triangle, it will not be able to stand.
While examining this philosophy, the unfortunate truth is it can be very difficult to eliminate or affect another person’s desire and ability. If someone is dead set on committing a crime, they can probably figure out a way to do it. And nowadays, not even physical distance or barriers can completely eliminate crime in a world where our lives can be accessed through mail, phone, or Internet. However, in an overwhelming number of circumstances where our everyday lives might be affected by someone's looking for an easy target or the “path of least resistance,” the encouraging news is that there is a significant amount of control we may exert over someone’s opportunity to make us, our home, or our neighborhood the next victim of crime.
So how do we do this? Well, the good news is that blocking many of these opportunities boils down to common sense measures most of us already know - things such as using locks, alarms, and other security measures in our homes and vehicles; not drawing attention to valuables or leaving them unsecured; closely guarding financial and personal information; knowing the warning signs of scams and fraud; trusting your intuition; helping Neighborhood Watch flourish by becoming familiar with neighbors and neighborhood routines and reporting things that seem “off” in a timely manner; taking ownership of personal safety and that of family members; asking friends and family to keep an eye out for you; and asking for help when needed. When we can safely come back together as a community for the relaunch of our Neighborhood Watch Program, we will be going into more detail of how we can make this work for more specific situations.
The bottom line is the more layers of security and deterrence we are able to put between ourselves and a criminal opportunity, the better chance we have of making ourselves a less attractive target, being better shielded from everyday risks and dangers, and increasing the odds a perpetrator will be caught.
Jerry Bushey and Janet Curtis: Security Committee/Neighborhood Watch Subcommittee