• Center for Problem oriented policing

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Understanding Theft of 'Hot Products'

Tool Guide No. 12 (2016)

by Kate J. Bowers and Shane D. Johnson

PDF Guide  Order Bound Copy


This Problem-Solving Tools guide describes what makes particular products attractive to thieves (hot), gives pointers on securing them, and discusses the methods by which hot products can be identified and monitored in your local area. It also summarizes the relevant research on hot products and identifies some useful concepts in understanding theft problems. The guide does not review in any detail research concerned with other types of crimes that might involve ‘hot’ products such as fraud, hacking, tampering, counterfeiting, or vandalism. Due to limitations in what is specifically known about hot products in the United States at this time, the guide draws on literature from around the world.

Since World War II, there has been a huge increase in valuable everyday products that people own—for example, cell phones, credit cards, cameras, and laptop and tablet computers.1 Many of these are hot products that are targeted by thieves, and their widespread availability contributes to, or can even generate, a crime problem. When faced with a mini-crime wave, whether of burglary, shoplifting, street robbery, or any other theft problem, you should analyze what products are stolen. This can be critical to addressing acquisitive crime as it can help you discover the most likely groups of thieves and identify responses to the problem that would otherwise be overlooked. Accordingly, you should use this guide as a companion to the following theft-related POP Guides:

Three factors need to be present for a crime to occur: the desire to commit the crime, the ability to commit the crime, and the opportunity to commit the crime. Analyzing hot products speaks to two of these elements—it considers both desirability and opportunity.

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