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The information above is only a generalized description of burglary at single-family house construction sites. You must combine these basic facts with a more specific understanding of your local problem if you hope to design an effective remedial strategy.
In addition to criminal justice agencies, the following entities have an interest in thwarting burglaries at single-family house construction sites and ought to be considered in connection with your information-gathering and problem-solving efforts:
The following methods will likely be helpful in analyzing the problem of burglaries at single-family house construction sites.
Police reports will provide a first look at your local problem. However, it can sometimes be difficult to identify burglaries that occur at construction sites, because reports of interest might be classified as theft, vandalism, or criminal damage to property, depending upon local statutory requirements and reporting protocols. Moreover, your records system may make it difficult to separate offenses occurring at single-family house construction sites from those occurring elsewhere. If standard reports do not capture the information you need, ask investigating officers to collect additional information when they make their initial police reports; for example, you might ask them to note whether there were any neighboring residences or what stage of construction the house had reached when it was burgled.
Visiting and observing single-family house construction sites can help you understand the construction practices and environmental features that contribute to the burglary problem.
Because construction site burglary is typically concentrated geographically, crime mapping can be a particularly useful analytical tool. Construction site burglary patterns that detail the method of the crime, time of day, day of week, type of property stolen, and any other important characteristics can inform patrol officers, builders, inspectors, neighborhood watches, and homeowners of recent activity in a particular area and encourage them to be on the alert for suspicious behavior.
Detectives and patrol officers often have undocumented knowledge about the crimes they have investigated. This information can often be elicited through personal interviews. For example, you might ask officers what they know about burglary operations they have observed or what measures they think might help in preventing burglaries.
Interviewing builders and contractors can be crucial, because many opportunities for construction site burglaries arise through site management and mismanagement. Understanding individual and industry reporting procedures, site supervisor responsibilities, crime prevention initiatives, the relationship between builders and subcontractors, and industry-wide views on crime and victimization will factor directly into understanding your local problem. In addition, such interviews will allow you to gather firsthand information on the efficacy of particular anticrime initiatives, such as the use of security guards and fencing, the initiation of reward programs, the utilization of burglary alarms and locking containers, and the delayed installation of appliances. Interviews should not be done haphazardly; rather, key questions should be developed beforehand to facilitate the information-gathering process. The questions listed in the following section can provide direction for these interviews.
Local building inspectors and other government personnel may be able to provide information about municipal policies and regulations that directly affect burglary opportunities. They may also have insights into industry practices that are effective in preventing burglary.
There follow some critical questions you should ask when analyzing your local burglary problem. Your answers to these and other questions will help you choose the most appropriate set of responses later on.
The Port St. Lucie (Florida) Police Department developed a scale to rate the difficulty of each burglary. The scale took into account the amount of skill, the type of transportation, and the time necessary to complete the crime, as well as the accessibility of the stolen property within the site. For additional details, see Boba (2005).
Measurement will allow you to determine the degree to which your efforts have succeeded and may also suggest how your responses can be modified to produce the intended results. In order to determine how serious the problem is, you should first measure the extent of the problem before you implement responses; in that way, measuring the problem after responses have been implemented will allow you to determine whether your solutions have been effective. All measures should be implemented in both the target area and the surrounding areas. For more detailed guidance on measuring effectiveness, see Problem-Solving Tools Guide No. 1, Assessing Responses to Problems: An Introductory Guide for Police Problem-Solvers.
When evaluating a response, you should use measures that specifically reflect its impact. In that regard, it is important to remember that when a response is initially implemented the reporting of crime may rise because of an increased awareness of criminal activities and increased cooperation with police.
The following are potentially useful measures of the effectiveness of responses to burglary at single-family house construction sites.
The following criteria, although not necessarily indicative of a successful outcome, may indicate that your responses have had the intended effect.
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