Safety is a crucial element of our standard of living. It is also a major concern for anyone living in the greater Charlotte area. Our Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department works hard every day and night to keep crime off our streets. They have reduced personal violence to one of the lowest levels in 30 years, but it is impossible for them to stop every crime from taking place. We have included information we hope you will utilize as a tool for staying safe throughout Charlotte. This section of our Crime Prevention initiative is concerned with personal safety, even for those that live in the suburban and rural areas of Mecklenburg County.

Much of personal crime prevention is aimed at making yourself less of a target to criminals. This is known throughout the security industry as target hardening. Target hardening can be as advanced as enrolling in a self-defense class or as primitive as turning the lock on your front door. Many Burglars will spend no longer than 60 seconds to try breaking into a home. Goods locks and good neighbors can be big deterrents to burglars. Making yourself and your property an unattractive target is a central theme of crime prevention.

All criminals, whether they realize it or not, must assess three variables before committing a crime. These are risk, opportunity, and desire, and they are inter-related meaning that when one variable changes, so do the other two. If you can eliminate any one of these three elements, you have a very high chance of successfully preventing a crime.

The first variable is risk, which is defined as the possibility of suffering harm or loss. In crime prevention, risk can be seen as (1) the criminal’s potential to be caught and incarcerated and (2) your risk of becoming a victim. The goal of safety is achieved by decreasing your risk of being a victim while increasing the risk of an offender being apprehended.

The second variable is opportunity, defined as a favorable juncture of circumstances. Perpetrators are on the lookout for easy opportunities to get what they want, and the larger the opportunity they have to commit a crime, the more at risk you are for that crime to take place. This facet of crime prevention is aimed at reducing the opportunities to become a victim and increasing the opportunity to become a functioning member of society.

Finally, desire plays an important role in crime prevention. To desire something is to long or hope for it. The goal of crime prevention is to reduce a criminal’s desire to commit crimes while increasing their desire to contribute to bettering themselves or their community. It is difficult to adjust the desire element, because you can’t make a criminal not want to commit a crime. However, by increasing the risk or decreasing the opportunity for a criminal, you can make him not want to commit that crime towards you.

To sum it up, crime prevention consists of making crime less desirable to criminals by removing their opportunity to profit and increasing their risk of getting arrested. When the risk of getting caught outweighs the desire and opportunity to commit a crime, that crime no longer appeals to a criminal.

Take the following example: If a criminal thinks he can get away with stealing items from an unlocked car in a dark, remote area, he is likely to commit that crime because the risk of getting caught is very low. However, if that same car is parked with all doors locked in a well-lit, well-populated area, the criminal’s chances of committing that theft are reduced dramatically. This is because the risk of getting caught now outweighs the desire to steal – the crime is not worth it anymore. Chances are that the criminal will move on to a more desirable target.

We hope you will browse through the rest of our Crime Prevention section and walk away with a better understanding of what it means to prevent crime. Remember: be informed, stay safe!

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