When working for a security company such as Acclaimed Security, it can be tempting to see the struggle between Yorkshire businesses and thieves as a case of ‘us’ versus ‘them’. It’s easy to demonise criminals and think of them as little more than pests that need to be stopped, but having a deeper understanding of the criminal mind can help us to do our jobs more effectively.
Why do you suppose some people develop the compulsion to take what isn’t theirs in the first place? Why do you suppose some areas and some businesses are more frequently targeted than others? Understanding what motivates thieves and being able to recognise the tell-tale signs they look for in an unsecured property can help us to keep your business assets more secure in future, so why not join us as we journey inside the mind of a thief…
What motivates a thief?
There are numerous external factors that can help to drive an individual to a life of crime. Some people turn to criminality due to circumstance, while others simply fall into in while lacking anything else to keep them occupied. While we can sympathise with thieves once we better understand their motivations, that doesn’t mean that we should go any easier on them as a result. If top-quality security were to make property theft more or less impossible, crime wouldn’t look like such an attractive option…
Desperation – Some criminals don’t steal because they want to, but because they feel as though they have no other option. A lack of resources and a sense of desperation can lead people to take what isn’t theirs; the London riots, for example, were fuelled by a sense of injustice as those being force-fed an aspirational lifestyle felt they couldn’t achieve that lifestyle on their own terms. While theft may seem attractive to these people, there are always better options.
Greed – In reality, however, theft has nothing to do with class or circumstance. Some people are just naturally greedy, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many examples of white collar crime in which wealthy businesspeople steal for nothing more than personal gain. Some criminals simply want what they can’t have, so endeavour to take it unlawfully.
Laziness – Much of the time, theft can appear to the budding criminal to be the easy option. A life of work can be difficult, stressful and mentally challenging, so some people decide that they have a better chance of making a life for themselves unlawfully than legitimately. There are, of course, many other reasons why someone might steal from your company – some criminals do it for the thrill of it, while others attempt to prove their bravado to their peers.
What makes them view you as a target?
It doesn’t matter why a thief has decided to steal, what really matters is why your company became his or her primary target. Without knowing it, you could be advertising your property as a potentially soft target to thieves. Leaving your property vacant for long periods of time, particularly overnight, will mark you out as an easy victim. Thieves look for signs of visible security on your business premises, and if they don’t find any, they may assume that it’s safe to chance their hand. Thieves will also look out for evidence of valuable objects and resources that can be resold for a considerable profit. Could a potential thief see into your property from the outside? Are your business’ valuables on show during the night hours?
What stops them attacking your property?
While it pays to understand the motivations and goals of a thief, all that really matters is preventing them from seeing your property and business assets as a potential target. Understanding the thought processes of thieves, however, can help security companies such as ourselves produce security services that act as more effective deterrents in future. Thieves, for example, understand that CCTV security cameras aren’t always guaranteed to earn a conviction in court, so if there aren’t manned guards present too, they’ll fancy their chances of getting away with a crime. The most effective deterrent is the presence of a security guard or fast-acting mobile patrol, as thieves don’t like to be caught in the act. If they think there’s a chance that their actions could result in a court appearance or jail time, they’re more than likely to move on.
Here at Acclaimed Security, we know what we’re dealing with when it comes to Yorkshire’s criminal fraternity. If you’re looking to keep your assets safe this year, take a look at our range of security services or contact us for more information regarding how we can help.
Revealed: how thieves choose their targets
Today’s criminals are no more or less conniving than they were one hundred years ago. Any policeman or security guard will tell you that the majority of thieves who target properties, whether they act or instinct or spend weeks planning the ‘perfect’ crime, are not the smartest of people. When acting under pressure, they make mistakes, and accidents, sometimes serious ones, can happen. At Acclaimed Security, we offer a range of services, such as manned guarding, that will not simply help capture the criminal, but prevent them from targeting your property in the first place. However, there is certain information available that can help you to keep your guard too.
While they may not always be smart, they are certainly calculating, and they know how to take advantage of certain situations, and people. The majority of thieves know their targets, though the targets may not know them, and so before they attack, are already well aware of the type of person they are dealing with and their common habits. If you are aware of exactly how they choose their targets, you could avoid being targeted in the future. Below, we’ve listed just some of the ways thieves choose their targets…
Shadowing – ‘Shadowing’ often occurs when the target is out and about, say, in town. The thief will shadow their target for a certain amount of time, to try to determine whether or not they are safe to attack or worth it. They will keep an eye out for the keys you might pull out, the type of shops you go into and whether or not your stop at an ATM. These are all signs that could show you are the perfect target. In a sense, thieves will also shadow a property, scoping it out to understand the comings and goings of staff members and scouting out likely ways in.
Marking – When a thief is working in alliance with a larger group or is ‘working’ several jobs at once, they will often ‘mark’ their targets as a signal to others or to remember them. This is most common when a thief is targeting a particular property. Criminals have been known to spray paint signs on the pavement outside their targets’ houses that can be mistaken for roadwork markings. This reminds them of the correct house. If you notice any strange markings on your pavement and you unsure of their meaning, telephone your local council to see if there are any works going on. If not, consider stepping up your security measures and potentially contacting the police.
Befriending – A criminal will try their hardest to make their crime run as smoothly as possible. As we said, they aren’t always the smartest of people, but what could be easier that befriending your target and being invited into their lives? By having a relationship with a target that allows them onto their property, the thief is not only likely to have permitted access and be saved the efforts of breaking and entering but is less likely to be considered a suspect. Your security guards should be aware of anyone attempting to be too ‘chummy’ with them, and your staff should also be on guard against anyone asking them pertinent, probing questions.
Rummaging – How will a criminal know whether you’re worth targeting? By checking your bank statements, receipts, the type of food you can afford to eat and the brand of products you use – all information they can learn just from sifting through your bins. We’re all expected to put out our bins ready for collection the night before, and if we want our rubbish to be collected, then we have to. Monitored surveillance will be able to spot any suspicious characters rummaging through your bins and will notify you, but you can control what a criminal might find. Within a business, identity theft can be common, though if sensitive data about your clients or suppliers goes amiss, you could be held responsible for not doing enough to protect it. Be sure to shred all receipts, bank statements and sensitive information before throwing it away.
Cruising – Criminals who are staking out a property to determine who lives or works there, what cars or possessions might be on the premises and ultimately the worth of the target will often make frequent passes by the property. If you notice any suspicious looking vehicles that drive past at odd hours of the day or too frequently, make a note of the registration. Of course, manned guarding and monitored cameras would notice any suspicious activity too.
These are just a few examples of ways in which thieves might go about choosing you as their target that, once you are aware of, you can look out for. Always be on your guard, but remember that companies such as Acclaimed Security are always on hand to offer security and peace of mind. Explore the range of services we offer or contact one of the team today to discuss how we can ensure you and your property remain secure.