‘Any time you take a chance you better be sure the rewards are worth the risk because they can put you away just as fast for a ten dollar heist as they can for a million dollar job’. Often named as one of the greatest heist movies of all time, this quote from Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing, spells out poignantly the intense peril inherent to the art of thievery. In nearly every culture and certainly every country, stealing on any level is a crime – taking that which does not belong to you is definitively ignoble. While there is no question whether theft is morally wrong, what burglars now must ask themselves is whether any of this is worth the risk. With the increasing ubiquity of advanced smart home security systems, it may seem the days of the thief are numbered.
Unmasking the Thieves
When compiling a profile of those who have engaged in thievery, the immediate impression one receives is that it is not a role performed as part of any sort of long-term, sustainable practice. Popular movies such as the ‘Ocean’s’ series portray thieves as having studied the craft for many years and having pulled off a multitude of heists in innumerable locations. The reality is quite starkly contrasted. A long-term study of thievery entitled ‘Property crime: Investigating career patterns and earnings’ followed 8000 people between 1997 and 2011 and found that for the vast majority of those who engage with this sort of behavior, it represents a negligible period in their lives. The average person studied was active for less than a year and, with over 15 years’ worth of data collected, less than 5% of participants continued their behavior for over three years. Furthermore, it was found that theft as a whole drops off very sharply as people leave their teenage years, with the vast majority of it perpetrated by those younger than 24. It may well be the case that as people grow up and mature, they better realize the impact of their actions, acknowledging the risks associated with it.
It may also be the case that many simply don’t see any sort of reasonable value in the act. The study found that the median earnings from an act of theft worked out at a meagre USD$37.50. Given the risk involved, this becomes even more unappealing, even for those perhaps struggling financially. Although that may not even be a factor whatsoever. Paradoxically, the income of people involved in the survey was found to have very little correlation with their propensity to steal. These burglaries often aren’t performed out of any semblance of necessity, for the vast majority of the time it is just a compulsion. A thief is not something that people are destined to become, born with an elite skillset for robbing houses, or as a result of destitution. Consequently, by transforming burglary from something seen as risky but thrilling in its possibility, into something increasingly impossible we can better deter would-be thieves.
Like Taking Candy from a Baby?
The statistics support this assertion. The rate of burglary is now about one-fifth what it was in 1980 and is still falling. From 2018 to 2019, the FBI reported a 9.5% drop in burglary in the US. As people become more security-savvy, business and technology has evolved to cater for this growing market. With 25% of American homes now possessing a home security system, it appears that by taking necessary steps to make burglary as difficult as possible for an intruder means many likely won’t even bother. In an interview with Bloomberg, Scott Decker, author of the 1994 book Burglars on the Job: Streetlife and Residential Break-Ins,believes that the new generation of internet and mobile phone-based alarm systems and doorbell cameras are far more effective than traditional means.“This is an area where technology really has played a role in consistently knocking down burglary rates”.
As homes become far more difficult to steal from, then the proportion of people deciding to perform burglary will go down. As we have analyzed already, the vast majority of people are doing this on a whim, an impulse, as opposed to a long-term career. As these smart security systems become increasingly widespread and affordable for all, the proposition of burglary is pushed from dangerous and risky into lunacy.
Smart Homes and Smarter Owners
While the security of a single family house might be predicated on the effectiveness of their security system, one might think that the level of safety from thieves would only be amplified by living in a block of flats. Naturally, they enjoy the ‘neighborhood watch’ element that is traditionally a critical burglar deterrent. With the whole block working in tandem, the effect of a neighborhood watch is amplified by all being in the exact same building. Theoretically, the sheer number of people who could bear witness to someone entering the building with the traditional balaclava and crowbar makes such an idea ridiculous. And yet, it appears these kinds of areas are often targeted most frequently. According to statistics from the US Department of Justice, it was found that people who rented accommodations, like flats, were targeted for burglaries at a far higher rate than those who own their own home outright.
Consequently, there is still a huge market of home security systems for those who rent out these flats, an effective security system providing a key blanket of comfort for potential residents. According to experts, these security systems form a pivotal part of the fight against burglary. ‘Thieves actively look for places with no sort of visible camera’ and admit that they would ignore houses with a clear security system to seek out somewhere easier.
Increasingly, tech companies are leveraging their experience with smart sensors, cameras, displays, facial recognition software, and integrated and connected systems to offer building developers a new generation of smart home security systems. VIA Smart Residential Building Solutions are able to provide peace of mind, providing comprehensive coverage across all aspects of a building. VIA provides formidable technological solutions at an individual apartment level, such as a smart doorbell that can inform homeowners of any visitors, providing 1080p full-HD footage straight to your mobile device, even packing superior night vision technology. Moreover, solutions such as smart access control allow apartment security teams to have the whole building working in tandem, providing guards with easy verification of visitors and delivery personnel. It makes the prospect of trying to infiltrate such a building distinctly more unappealing to any would-be burglars.
By upgrading your residence’s defenses to deter against the petty burglar, you ensure that the first thing on their mind is the risk not the rush. By employing effective smart security measures, you can be certain that your home is safe, and that the common thievery continues to become an increasingly rare sight.
Written by Stan Buckley, PR, Social Media Marketing and Marketing Communications intern at VIA and a Business Studies graduate from Lancaster University.