In the Routine Activity Theory, the elements necessary for crime to occur are (1) a suitable victim, (2) a motivated offender, and (3) the lack of a capable guardian. In a given situation, these elements can be changed in order to prevent crime. Thus, the Routine Activity Theory implications for crime prevention typically involve making changes in the behaviors of potential victims, and changes in the presence or absence of guardians.
Routine Activity Theory Implications for Individuals
To avoid victimization, people should ensure that the three elements of crime do not exist simultaneously. A person as a possible victim does not have control on the motivation of a potential criminal. However, the person has control over being a suitable victim. He also has control on being in the presence of a capable guardian. Thus, the Routine Activity Theory implications focus on the elements of (1) being a suitable victim and (2) the absence of a capable guardian.
1. Being a Suitable Victim
You can reduce the risk of becoming a victim by showing awareness of your surroundings. The Routine Activity Theory implication is that your behavior should show that you know what’s happening around you. For example, instead of looking downward while walking, you could walk while occasionally looking around you. In this way, you’d be giving the impression that you know that there are people around you. You’d be giving the impression that you saw the potential criminal. This behavior would discourage the potential criminal because he would think that you already saw him.
2. Being in the Presence or Absence of a Capable Guardian
Regarding capable guardians, the Routine Activity Theory implication is that you can avoid being a victim by avoiding areas where there are no capable guardians. Avoid areas like dark alleys and backstreets with no visible police. Having a suitably sized dog can also discourage burglars from entering your home.
Routine Activity Theory Implications for Crime Prevention Policy
In government policies and programs, the Routine Activity Theory implications are also focused on the element of (1) people becoming suitable victims and (2) the absence of a capable guardian. The government also does not have significant control over the motivation behind criminal activity. The priority is on the element of the absence of a capable guardian.
1. Addressing the Absence of Capable Guardians
A major Routine Activity Theory implication for crime prevention is to ensure police visibility. Highly visible police officers can discourage people from committing crime. The government can also install new CCTV cameras in key locations to let people know that they are being watched. People are discouraged from committing crime if they know that they are being watched.
2. Preventing People from becoming Suitable Victims
The Routine Activity Theory implication on crime prevention programs also highlights public awareness campaigns. These campaigns inform people to avoid areas where they are likely to become victims. These campaigns also inform people to behave in ways that make them less likely to become victims.
- Sampson, R., Eck, J. E., & Dunham, J. (2009). Super controllers and crime prevention: A routine activity explanation of crime prevention success and failure. Security Journal, 23(1), 37-51.
- Wortley, R., & Mazerolle, L. (Eds.). (2013). Environmental criminology and crime analysis. Willan.