Understanding the Problem of Crime

Phil Thomson, Auror CEO

Each year, almost four percent of the world’s GDP goes directly into the pockets of criminals. But it’s not just the financial impact of these missing trillions that the community has to bear. Retail crime in particular also creates unsafe situations for staff and customers, occupies valuable police resources, and often leads to more serious offending without consequences for the offenders.

Crime is a community problem and in the face of criminality on such a massive scale, the only way police and businesses can succeed in stemming the tide is by working better together in smarter ways.

While we’re working hard on building beautiful software to help achieve this, we also find ourselves in the unique position of seeing what’s going on in different businesses, police forces, and security providers across the world, and the impact new technologies can have in the fight against crime.

As we grow, we want to share our knowledge on how we can work as a community to fight crime, utilising the newest technologies while respecting personal privacy and using data for good.

But before we can contemplate the best ways to fight crime, we first need to understand the problem of crime itself. Modern crime is actually very complex and organised, but there are many myths about ‘everyday crime’ that need to be dispelled so we can understand the complexity of the threat.

Myths of Modern Crime

Myth 1: Everyday Crime is opportunistic and for personal consumption.

The majority of retail theft incidents are actually well organised. Offenders go out into the community with the intention of stealing. Often the offenders will work in small groups, share vehicles, and target multiple businesses across a suburb or city in a single day. Professional thieves don’t target items they necessarily want themselves; they want items that can be readily converted and gotten rid of quickly for cash or a direct swap for drugs.

Myth 2: Most crime is high risk/high reward.

Movies and TV shows glamorise big jewellery heists and bank robberies as million-dollar payoffs for criminals. In fact, most crime is low risk/low reward, where offenders easily get away with stealing a few hundred dollars worth of goods on a regular basis.

If they got caught, it has historically been treated as a minor isolated incident and not looked at in context to the totality of offending, since that information was not readily available. But with this type of offending happening every day, it all adds up to that bigger reward. Take this family that made at least $7 million over 10 years, for example.

Myth 3: The Police should be doing more to stop shoplifting. It’s their job.

Everyone has a part to play in preventing crime, and that includes businesses need to target-harden their sites and work better with others in the community. Police do have a role to play; they need to target the repeat offenders who are causing a lot of the problems.

Prioritised enforcement can go a long way toward making an impact; according to our figures less than one percent of offenders are responsible for nearly 20 percent of the total theft value.

Preventing Crime Through Education

Businesses can’t go it alone. They need to partner with law enforcement, the community and others to have an impact on crime. A better informed and more capable community is able to make it harder for the criminals to succeed. We’ve made it easy to safely share information in real-time through the Auror platform, and now we want to extend this to share knowledge that can help us all combat crime more effectively.

We care about our customers’ success, and strive to bring you information and opinions that help increase understanding of the problem of crime and keep you up to speed with the latest knowledge on crime and prevention. Over the coming months we’ll feature a variety of content that looks at different facets of crime and prevention in more depth.

If you’d like to contribute an article on a particular topic, please get in touch with your article proposal. Or subscribe to our Spotlight newsletter for all the latest updates and tips from Auror’s community of users on how to win the fight against crime.