Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Summary of Responses

The table below summarizes the responses to check and card fraud, 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.

Enforcement-Based Responses
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
1 Posting notices Targets potential offenders who may not know the behavior is illegal, and deters those who fear social and criminal-justice consequences …the notices clearly define the targeted behavior, are conspicuous and seen by potential offenders, and are supplemented by surveillance or patrol It may stigmatize the site and deter legitimate use
2 Issuing warnings Provides the opportunity for specific deterrence, without the costs of a formal arrest …patrol activities and information are synchronized so that police can identify repeat offenders The consequences may not be seen as certain enough to deter the behavior; recipients of warnings may object to the presumed criminal intent; warnings could deter legitimate users
3 Creating the illusion of surveillance Destroys the illusion of privacy, deterring those who fear exposure …potential offenders believe the surveillance is real Increased police activity may give legitimate users the impression that the area isn’t safe; the efforts may give the public a false sense of security
4 Establishing highly visible patrols Indicates that the police will detect illicit activity, deterring those who fear exposure …patrol schedules are regular, but unpredictable An increased sense of danger may heighten the excitement for some participants; increased police activity may give legitimate users the impression that the area isn’t safe
5 Shifting enforcement responsibility to private security firms Increases the frequency of patrol …businesses or other organizations have both a vested interest in controlling the behavior and sufficient resources for private patrols Delegating responsibility may suggest that the police aren’t concerned about the problem
6 Imposing “stay away” orders Restricts the activity of known offenders …there’s adequate monitoring, and the police have the information to identify offenders It may displace the activity to other areas; it requires legal authority to enforce
7 Using police crackdowns Increases the likelihood of arrest, deterring those who fear exposure …it’s used as a short-term method to interrupt entrenched behavioral patterns, and is supplemented with more-sustained responses Crackdowns are costly; they require significant manpower; they can overwhelm the criminal justice system with lower-level offenders
Environment-Based Responses
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
8 Designating geographic boundaries Reduces the likelihood of inadvertent observation …the boundaries are clearly marked, and activity outside of the boundaries is discouraged Some may think it condones public sexual activity
9 Improving lighting Increases the ability to monitor activity …the current lighting is inadequate, and participants do not want to be observed Installing and maintaining the lighting may be costly
10 Cutting back bushes and other vegetation Improves the ability to monitor activity …vegetation is providing cover for the activity, and participants don’t want to be observed It may have negative ecological and aesthetic effects; the public will more easily notice those who—despite the lack of cover— persist in engaging in the activity
11 Redesigning restrooms Improves the ability to monitor activity, reducing the sense of privacy some participants desire …the new design does not deter legitimate users Renovation costs may be substantial
12 Relocating remote facilities Increases informal surveillance by increasing legitimate use …the new location encourages legitimate use Relocation costs may be substantial
13 Increasing the area’s legitimate-activity levels Increases informal surveillance, and demonstrates that those who want to use the area legitimately are fed up with the illicit activities …legitimate use is consistent and occurs during times when illegal activities have generally occurred It may take time to reassure legitimate users that the area has been reclaimed and is safe for their activities, and for children
14 Limiting the location’s hours of operation Increases the difficulty in finding an area for trysting … the community supports the change, and the area is patrolled during off-hours The community may object to having less time for legitimate activities
15 Closing the problem facility, street, or area Increases the difficulty in finding a location for trysting …the community supports the change, and any barriers used cannot be breached It may be inconvenient for legitimate users
Publicity-Based Responses
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
16 Using the media to deter potential offenders from frequenting trysting spots Deters those who fear exposure …enforcement activities are seen as fair and unbiased, and the publicity is sustained over time It may increase illicit-activity levels by heightening participants’ sense of excitement or by confirming a location’s reputation as an active cruising area
17 Requesting the removal of website and guidebook location references Limits the number of potential participants aware of trysting locations …the high activity levels at the targeted locations are the result of the publicity they’ve received Organizations that provide such information may refuse to cooperate
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
18 Using undercover decoys Temporarily removes offenders from circulation; the social consequences may shame participants and deter repeated activity   This response is vulnerable to claims of entrapment or discrimination; the social consequences may be devastating and out of proportion to the seriousness of the offense; officers may be reluctant to take on such assignments
19 Harassing or intimidating suspects Discourages potential offenders from frequenting targeted locations   It undermines police integrity; it may create tension with the gay community if same-sex activities are specifically targeted