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Operation Identification - A Way to Prevent Burglaries?

NCJ Number
J Knutsson
Date Published
79 pages
A study of the impact of Operation Identification in a residential area outside Stockholm, Sweden, indicates that it did not reduce the risk of burglary in single-family houses, although alarm systems did reduce the risk of burglary.
In an area containing about 3,500 houses, the trends in participation in Operation Identification and the extent of housebreaking were followed over a 4-year period starting in l979. Housebreaking was also studied for 4 years before the project's start. Each house in the area was visited on three occasions at 2-year intervals by an observer who noted whether the house displayed an Operation Identification label. Houses displaying an alarm sign were also recorded. The participation in Operation Identification increased from l3 percent to 30 percent over the study period. Use of alarm systems grew from 4 percent to l0 percent over the same period. However, burglaries increased in the area, whereas they decreased in adjacent areas. Households using Operation Identification were not less vulnerable to burglary. Interviews with a small number of burglars also revealed that they would not refrain from burglarizing households taking part in Operation Identification. Although the theory underlying Operation Identification is reasonable, the reality is different. Only a small proportion of items stolen from participating households are marked. Jewelry and silver, the items most attractive to thieves, are markable only to a limited extent. In addition, the chance of recovering marked objects is small. Alarm systems, on the other hand, were found to reduce the risk of burglary. Figures, data tables, appendixes presenting the study methods and related data, and a list of 33 references are supplied.