Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Summary of Responses

The table below summarizes the responses to burglary of single-family houses, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

Situational Crime Prevention Responses
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
1 Installing burglar alarms Increases burglars' risk of detection; deters burglars if alarms are overt; increases arrests if alarms are silent or covert …triggered alarms are promptly investigated Expensive; high percentage of false alarms; burglars may disable alarms or work quickly
2 Installing closed- circuit television (CCTV) Deters many burglars; increases burglars' risk of detection and arrest …cameras are well positioned and not easily disabled Expensive, but costs are dropping; can be motion- activated; provides investigative evidence; complements burglar alarms
3 Hardening targets Makes it more difficult for burglars to break in …houses are not well secured Deters opportunistic burglars; residents who need it the most may not be able to afford security measures
4 Marking property Makes it more difficult for burglars to dispose of goods …desirable property can be marked Requires residents' participation and investigative follow up; publicity increases the benefits
5 Increasing occupancy indicators Gives burglars the impression that residents are home …burglars are deterred by occupancy Some burglars use tactics to confirm occupancy
6 Creating safe havens Increases burglars' risk of detection through a combination of security measures …perimeter and entry points can be controlled Expensive; might displace burglaries to lower-income neighborhoods
7 Improving visibility Increases burglars' risk of detection …there is someone around to spot a burglar Inexpensive; does not work if no one is around or if witnesses fail to act
8 Implementing Neighborhood Watch (NW) programs Increases burglars' risk of detection …there are well- established neighbor relations and residents can detect strangers Difficult to ensure participation over time; residents must be at home during vulnerable periods
9 Modifying building codes Makes it more difficult for burglars to break in …residents and developers willingly comply with the codes Not always expensive; the results are not immediate
10 Modifying community design Increases burglars' risk of detection and makes it more difficult for them to break in …design changes can be incorporated into new developments May have a long term impact
11 Reducing traffic access Increases burglars' risk of detection …burglars do not live in the neighborhood May inconvenience residents
12 Reducing house access Makes it more difficult for burglars to break in …visibility cannot be enhanced Can be tailored to individual properties
Victim-Oriented Responses
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
13 Protecting repeat victims Decreases victims' risk of further burglaries, and increases burglars' risk of detection …burglaries are concentrated at a few addresses, and strategies can be implemented quickly Combines prevention and detection; cost effective; targets the people who need help the most
Offender-Oriented Responses
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
14 Targeting repeat offenders Increases burglars' risk of detection …there is a small, identifiable group of chronic offenders May include truancy programs, tracking probationers and others, or high-level surveillance
15 Disrupting stolen-property outlets Makes it more difficult for burglars to dispose of goods …the stolen goods are in high demand Requires continued monitoring of markets for stolen goods
16 Providing substance abuse treatment Helps offenders overcome their addiction, reducing their need to commit burglary to get money for drugs and/or alcohol …effective programs can be developed and provided to chronic offenders Expensive; may be difficult to target the right people
17 Improving initial police response and follow-up investigations Increases burglars' risk of arrest …the current police response is not adequate May require an extensive review of police practices and resources; may be effective if strategic
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
18 Increasing criminal sanctions Raises the penalties for burglary, and reduces its rewards …burglars are chronic offenders Can be tailored to individual properties
19 Providing generic crime prevention advice Makes it more difficult for burglars to break in …residents follow the advice Difficult to target those who need it the most