The Three Elements Of Crime – Lock It Or Lose It

By: Sheriff Carmine Marceno

Often referred to as the “Crime Triangle,” three elements must exist for a crime to occur:

  1. An individual’s desire and willingness to commit a crime
  2. A target/victim of said crime
  3. The opportunity to commit the crime

As residents, we have no control over the behavioral choices of another individual. Nor do we have choices regarding the target of a crime. These elements belong exclusively to the potential criminal. If a thief is determined to enter a home or car, the decisions to commit the crime and the target have already been made.

We do, however, have significant input in regard to the third element…the opportunity.

Unlocked vehicles equate to opportunity. There is no gentler way to express this.

Individuals have already decided that they are going to burglarize a vehicle. Roaming your community, they gaze at the myriad of SUVs, crossovers and cars. It is time to select a target…and it’s your vehicle.

Parked in a dimly-lit location lacking visible security cameras, with the view from the darkened street obstructed by the four-foot Podocarpus hedges that you planted for privacy, he/she has chosen your truck.

The individual approaches the driver’s door and pulls on the door handle…it’s unlocked. How easy!

The following morning, as you approach your vehicle to set out for work, you notice that the driver’s door isn’t fully closed. Upon closer inspection, all of the contents from your glovebox and center console are strewn about the front and rear seats. Your floor mats lie in the middle of your neighbor’s lawn. Your heart begins to race.

Your first thought…my firearm! You reach beneath the front seat, as this is your “secret hiding place,” only to find that your firearm has been stolen.

Your laptop that you secured in the trunk is gone, as well, as is the extra house key that you kept “hidden” in your center console.

You feel violated, disrespected and frightened. You now need to contact your employer, indicate that you will be significantly late for work, and must make the call to law enforcement.

While awaiting the arrival of law enforcement officers, you begin to recognize the harm that may come to someone as a result of the theft of your firearm. Will it be used in the commission of a home invasion? A domestic violence incident? A robbery?

In hindsight, you recognize how easy it must have been to commit this burglary. No need to make any noise…no broken windows…no significant amount of time required to steal everything of value from inside of your vehicle.

You come to realize that had you locked your vehicle…pushed one button…this likely would have never occurred. You promise yourself that you will never be this careless again.

For now, however, it’s too late.

“Lock it or lose it,” an adage that you have heard hundreds of times but chose to ignore, turns out to be sound advice.

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