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Reducing the Illicit Trade in Endangered Wildlife: The Market Reduction Approach

NCJ Number
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice Volume: 24 Issue: 3 Dated: August 2008 Pages: 274-295
Jacqueline L. Schneider
Date Published
August 2008
22 pages
Using the example of the illegal trade in endangered flora and fauna, this article examines how the market-reduction approach (MRA) to crime control can be expanded beyond its current use to counter nontraditional types of property crime.
Going beyond the simplified principle that thieves steal to make money, preliminary market-level analyses show that thieves steal property because they know there are ways for them to sell the goods they steal for cash. The MRA aims to disrupt the markets for specific types of stolen property so that the incentive for thieves to steal those products is reduced. Although the MRA crime-control strategy has been applied to traditional types of stolen property, such as the theft of vehicles and electronic products, this article proposes that the theft of more exotic property--such as endangered plants, animals, and their parts--occurs as a result of these same dynamics. Thieves, poachers, and handlers trade these items because somewhere there is a handler who has people ready and willing to purchase the stolen goods. This article discusses how a crime reduction strategy that targets traditional thieves, handlers, and stolen property can be expanded to counter less traditional property and theft-related crime, such as the illicit trade in endangered species. The foundations of the MRA, in terms of policing strategies, rest on proactive, intelligence-led, and zero-tolerance policing; its theoretical foundations rest on routine activity theory. The overall aims of the MRA are to disrupt and reduce stolen good markets by discovering what property is stolen, how thieves acquire the property in terms of both location and technique, how goods are recycled back into the community, and who the consumers of these stolen goods are. Once these patterns are identified, specific policing interventions can be developed based on the collected data. 1 table, 34 notes, and 47 references