Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Appendix: Sample Stolen Goods Market Offender Interview

The following questions can be asked in the present, rather than the past tense, if interviews are conducted by a skilled social scientist questioning active offenders while offering the interviewees full ethical assurances of anonymity. English constabularies using the Market Reduction Approach employed outside academic consultants to interview offenders in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire83, Operation Radium in Kent84 and the We Don't Buy Crime initiative in West Mercia85. Police officers and other police employees may not be in a position to offer the same assurances of confidentiality.

1. What sentence did you receive for your last theft offense?

2. What kind of things did you steal?

3. From where did you steal?

4. How often did you steal?

5. How did you decide what to steal?

6. Did you know what you were going to do with the items before you stole them?

7. What did you do with what you stole?

  • Take the buyer to the goods?
  • Take the goods to the buyer?
  • Take the goods onto the street, looking for buyers?
  • Use a mobile phone to find buyers?
  • Take the goods to a friend who knows buyers?

8. How did you know to whom/where to sell?

9. Why was it easier to sell to that person/place?

10. How did you learn the best ways to sell stolen goods?

11. Where did you (and others) sell the following types of stolen goods?

  • Jewelry?
  • Electrical goods?
  • Shoplifted items (clothes, cigarettes, food, alcohol)?
  • Guns?

12. To how many different people did you sell?

13. For each type of stolen good, how did you sell?

  • Hawking in a public place, door-to-door, in bars, at flea markets?
  • Network sales (through friends and contacts)?
  • Commercial fence supplies?
  • What kind of businesses? Corner shops, jewelers, pawnbrokers, secondhand shops?
  • Residential fence supplies?
  • Family, friends, acquaintances?

14. Did people buy stolen goods without asking any questions about where they came from or proof of identity?

15. Do you think the shopkeepers knew the goods you were selling were stolen?

16. How easy was it to sell each type of stolen goods?

17. Did police ever catch your fence/dealer?

18. Did you ever need to dump goods?

19. How did you know where to take stolen property?

20. How long did it take you to get rid of property?

21. If you had to store/stash goods, where did you do that?

  • Own home?
  • Friend's/relative's/partner's house?
  • Vehicle?
  • Lockups?
  • Empty houses?

22. How did you transport what you stole?

  • Car?
  • Public transportation?
  • On foot?
  • Bicycle?

23. Did you ever swap stolen goods for drugs? Or trade stolen goods for anything else?

24. Did you work alone or with someone else?

25. Did you earn money from selling stolen goods shared with someone?

26. Did anyone ever ask you to steal to order? What sort of property?

27. Did you ever ask someone else to sell something for you? Who (don't need to know names)? What sort of property?

28. What did you do with any money you got from what you stole?

29. Why did you steal and sell stolen goods?

  • For cash to party (alcohol, drugs, prostitution)?
  • To support other people?
  • For fun and excitement?
  • To support a drug, alcohol, gambling, or other addiction?

30. What did community members think of buying stolen goods? Did they ask? Did they turn a "blind eye"?

31. Were you aware of the police when you were stealing or selling stolen goods? Did you take precautions not to get caught?

32. Did you have any strategies to ensure that buyers were not going to inform police?

33. What did you know about police operations against thieves and dealers?

34. How concerned were you about your chances of getting caught?

35. How long did it typically take you to sell your stolen goods?

36. Were or are you aware of any markets closing down as a result of police intervention?

37. Were or are you aware of any increased police interest in where stolen property was or is sold?

38. Did property-marking deter you from stealing? Were there particular types of marking that deterred you more than others?

39. Did you get a good return for the goods you sold?

40. Did prices for particular goods go up? If so, did that affect what you stole?

41. Did prices for particular goods go down? Did that stop you from stealing such things?

42. What do you think affected/affects price changes?

  • The market got/gets swamped with stolen stuff?
  • Street prices went/go down?
  • Fashions changed/change?
  • Prospective thieves feared/fear detection?

43. Are there any goods that you used to steal, but no longer would? If so, why?