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Preventing Retail Theft: An Application of Environmental Criminology

NCJ Number
Security Journal Volume: 7 Issue: 1 Dated: (April 1996) Pages: 71-75
Date Published
5 pages
This article applies the modern crime theories of routine activity theory and environmental criminology to retail crime prevention.
The routine activity approach to crime analysis notes that ordinary crime requires three minimal elements: a likely offender, a suitable target, and the absence of a capable guardian against crime (Felson, 1994). The routine activity approach is closely linked to environmental criminology theory. This theory has been named and explained by Patricia and Paul Brantingham. They consider closely the routes that offenders and victims take through space and time. Under this theory they distinguish crime attractors from crime generators, and they distinguish between nodes (places where crime occurs), paths (routes through which offenders and victims travel), and edges (lines along which two parts of town meet, for example). They also distinguish between insiders (employees) and outsiders (customers and delivery personnel). After discussing these concepts of routine activity theory and environmental criminology, this article considers how the theories apply in countering shoplifting, floor theft (employee theft directly from the sales area), and storage room theft. Under the theories espoused in this article, control of retail theft requires thinking about space, about micro environments within stores, and about how the store relates to its larger physical environment. Environmental criminology focuses on routings, and the routine activity approach focuses on routines. 7 references

Date Published: January 1, 1996