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VICTIM FACILITATION - THE CASE OF AUTOMOBILE THEFT

NCJ Number
68693
Journal
Victimology Volume: 4 Issue: 4 Dated: (1979) Pages: 361-370
Author(s)
A KARMEN
Date Published
1979
Length
10 pages
Annotation
THIS PAPER FOCUSES ON THE CONCEPT OF VICTIM FACILITATION AS IT APPLIES TO AUTO THEFT AND COMMENTS ON THE EFFECTS OF SUCH A VICTIMOLOGICAL ORIENTATION ON CRIME PREVENTION PROGRAMS.
Abstract
THE FACILITATION THEORY HOLDS THAT MOTORISTS WHO FAIL TO LOCK THEIR CARS AND POCKET THE KEYS FACILITATE THE THEFTS OF THEIR CARS. CONDEMNATIONS OF NEGLIGENT DRIVERS APPEAR IN AUTO THEFT LITERATURE AS FAR BACK AS THE ORIGIN OF THE THEFT PROBLEM. YET, A COMPILATION OF SURVEY FINDINGS REVEALS THAT THE PROPORTION OF CAR THEFTS THAT ARE MOTORIST FACILITATED, AS INDICATED BY PERCENT OF STOLEN CARS WITH KEYS IN THEM, IS DECLINING. IN AN 1974 STUDY ONLY 14 PERCENT OF THE VICTIMS OF ALL TYPES OF MOTOR THEFT HAD LEFT THEIR KEYS INSIDE THE CAR. MOREOVER, CONCLUSIONS DRAWN FROM AVAILABLE DATA SHOW THAT THE IMPORTANCE OF VICTIM FACILITATION HAS BEEN CONSISTENTLY EXAGGERATED. THE ACTUAL PROPORTION OF AT-RISK CARS THAT ARE PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE DUE TO KEYS LEFT IN THE IGNITION RANGES FROM 6 PERCENT TO 0.5 PERCENT. THE STEREOTYPE OF THE DESERVING VICTIM IS THUS DEEPLY ROOTED IN THE LITERATURE ABOUT AUTO THEFT, AND VICTIM-BLAMERS HAVE CREATED AN INACCURATE IMAGE OF CAR STEALING AS TYPICALLY VICTIM-FACILITATED. RECENT REPORTS NOTE THAT A GROWING PROPORTION OF CAR THEFTS ARE THE WORK OF PROFESSIONALS AND COMMERCIAL RINGS. THE VICTIM BLAMERS CONDEMN THOSE WHO MAKE THEIR CARS EASIER TO STEAL IN ORDER TO DIVERT ATTENTION AWAY FROM THOSE WHO DESIGN AND INSURE CARS THAT ARE EASILY STOLEN. MOTORIST-BLAMING AND KEY FACILITATION COULD BE ELIMINATED ENTIRELY BY A DRAMATIC INNOVATION IN AUTOMOTIVE DESIGN--THE SPRING EJECTION LOCK. TABULAR DATA AND A LIST OF REFERENCES ACCOMPANY THE REPORT.