Criminology, probation and stuff

Some musings on criminology with a focus on probation

British burglars to switch to iPod muggings

with 2 comments

This is an interesting story– burglars are apparently moving towards robbery in order to get their hands on more expensive goods as the price of appliances traditionally located in the home such as DVD players etc decrease. I’m not entirely convinced by this- my experience of recidivist thieves suggests that there is a hierarchy in the seriousness of theft and that people are unlikely or unwilling to move up the scale. For example, shoplifters say they won’t burgle (because the shops can afford to lose the money), burglars are unlikely to commit street robbery (because house insurance will cover the cost of stolen good but the act of stealing from someone directly is seen to cause more psychological harm than burglary) and street robbers are unlikely to… well, I don’t know what they might see as more serious than robbery. I see it as a kind of thief’s moral code.

I wonder what Treadwell (whose research has led to these claims) is doing to find this out and whether he is basing it on crime data or personal account from the burglars/robbers themselves. If it’s based on crime data then how can we be so sure that the rise in street robbery results from people changing their modus operandi or from a new generation of street robbers that have no antecedents? Treadwell is quoted in this article saying, “we have seen a rise in other forms of criminal activity, particularly young people who seem to be mugging one another” suggesting that it’s not necessarily burglars turning to robbery. It’ll be interesting to see when he presents his work at the BSC in Leicester later this year.


Written by criminologyandstuff

February 11, 2010 at 11:24 am

Posted in criminal justice

2 Responses

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  1. it seems possible that the moral hierarchy you describe is developed post-hoc. Over-stating the “badness” of activities that you are not engaged in is likely to make you feel less bad about whatever it is that you are currently doing. That would create the appearance of a strong moral hierarchy, but in practice might not have much effect if there are other pressures to change behaviour.


    February 11, 2010 at 5:10 pm

  2. Yeah, I agree that the moral hierarchy could be developed post hoc and that it could be used to minimise one’s behaviour. Nonetheless, I think that it holds some control over a person’s actions and that the cost of DVD players decreasing is not going to make someone start robbing- there are so many other factors that make people commit a certain kind of crime that the cost of an appliance is likely to be minimal- in my opinion anyway!


    February 12, 2010 at 4:33 pm

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