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Hot Products: Understanding, Anticipating and Reducing Demand for Stolen Goods

NCJ Number
Ronald V. Clarke
Barry Webb
Date Published
57 pages
This analysis of products most likely to be stolen in the United Kingdom argues that focusing policy on research attention on these hot products would achieve crime prevention benefits comparable to those achieved by focusing on hot spots and repeat victims.
Data from the British Crime Survey, surveys by industry organizations, and government and insurance statistics on vehicle theft reveal that items most likely to be stolen include manufactured goods, food, animals, works of art, and cash. For each kind of theft, thieves consistently choose specific items. Residential burglars are most likely to pick jewelry, videos, cash, stereos, and televisions. Shoplifting depends partly on the type of store; in all stores cassettes, cigarettes, alcoholic drinks, and fashion items are at risk of being shoplifted. The cars most likely to be stolen depend on whether the thief is a joyrider, a thief planning to sell the car, or a thief planning to sell components. Vehicle body type helps determine which trucks are stolen. The crucial attributes of hot products can be summarized in the acronym CRAVED, which notes that hot products must be concealable, removable, available, valuable, enjoyable, and disposable. Research is needed on ways of disrupting theft markets, on assessing technological developments that could result in new hot products or could prevent their theft, and on finding ways to encourage business and industry to incorporate theft prevention in their products and practices. The current data indicate that such approaches will not result in displacement of theft onto other objects; instead, making theft more difficult may lead to a more orderly and law-abiding society. Tables and 100 references