U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Theft from Cars In Center-City Parking Facilities: A Case Study in Implementing Problem-Oriented Policing

NCJ Number
Ronald V. Clarke; Herman Goldstein
Date Published
February 2003
56 pages
This paper describes a problem-oriented policing project designed to reduce thefts from cars parked in the center city of Charlotte, NC.
This project was completed under an Advancing Community Policing Grant made to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Policing. The problem of larcenies from autos (LFAs) constituted a large proportion of all crime reported in Uptown, a recently redeveloped and revitalized area of the city of Charlotte. The LFAs had been resistant to control through conventional police operations and were increasing at a rate faster than economic growth. Between 1998 and 1999, LFAs jumped from 1,011 to 1,313. These statistics most likely underestimate the problem because vicitimization surveys have found that only 30-50 percent of LFAs are reported to the police. Analysis of the problem found that police officers tended to blame LFAs on a combination of careless victims, lenient courts, and offenders who were supporting drug or alcohol problems, rather than on the location and security of the facilities. While conventional police operations continued to be used to combat the problem a comprehensive inventory of parking facilities was conducted. This resulted in the identification of 206 separate parking facilities (39 decks and 167 surface lots) with more than 20 parking spaces at each facility. A detailed analysis of the risks of theft, and the associated security features, was made for each facility. The analysis revealed that 1) risks of theft were much greater in lots than decks, and 2) higher risks of theft in lots were associated with inadequate fencing, poor lighting, and the absence of attendants. These data played an important part in obtaining the agreement of lot owners and operators to make security improvements. Before most of these improvements had been made, however, thefts in the lots began to decline, possibly as the result of more focused patrolling by police and security personnel. This paper concludes with a discussion of the difficulties encountered by police in undertaking problem-oriented projects, and of ways to help them meet these difficulties. 6 tables, appendix, and 40 references