All crime is committed for a reason, whether it be to fund a drug habit, or to line the pockets of organised criminals.
In this article I am concentrating on crimes which are committed for a gain, rather than attacks against people or public disorder types of crime.
Behind most crime, as well as victims, there are vulnerable people too. These may be young children or those exploited due to their vulnerability, such as drug dependency or mental health.
I was reading in the paper recently about fraud and how there has been a notable shift from criminals gaining or attempting to gain relatively large sums of money, to an increasing trend of smaller, more frequent amounts being stolen.
The article mentioned that low amounts of money defrauded from banks accounts are either not noticed by account holders, or they regard any loss as minor, therefore the crime is not reported.
The high frequency of these fraud offences means that although there is a low individual loss, the accumulative loss is large.
The perceived safety for people committing this type of crime is that their offending remains relatively un-noticed and it is hard to build a picture to links to any organised crime group.
This article prompted me to think about the parallels of low-level opportunist theft, in particular, theft from unlocked vehicles.
There are a surprising number of vehicles left insecure overnight and equally surprising is what people leave in their vehicles.
Criminals know this to be the case and there are many vehicles entered by thieves and items easily obtained.
When I read reports that have been made in relation to these crimes, it is quite often that the victim will mention that they have spoken to neighbours whose vehicle has also been entered and that their neighbour will make a report for themselves in due course.
In many cases the other victims were unlikely to report their own crime, or it was simply because they had been spoken to by another victim in their road that prompted them to do so.
This lack of reporting can be due to people feeling a degree of responsibility in leaving their vehicle insecure, or the value of what has been stolen is low. You could probably add to this that the victim may feel the police have better things to do and there is no likelihood of the thieves being caught.
It is true that the police will need to prioritise what they will investigate, but all crime matters and should be reported.
By reporting a crime officers will speak to the neighbourhood to ask what private CCVT is available, including ring doorbell CCTV. Although this is unlikely to capture any image useful for identification, it will show clothing, which sometimes may have quite an identifiable feature about it.
The reports, together with some clothing detail, will allow police to direct patrols in the areas that crime is happening and stop and search people in this locality fitting any description gained from CCTV.
As well as vehicles, shed breaks are quite common too, where cycles and garden equipment is sought.
It is these low-level crimes which fund drug habits and behind drug supply are people who will exploit the young and those who are vulnerable. This is the reason why the police need to know what is going on in any area, otherwise a lack of reporting will lead to a distorted picture about crime in their area.
Thinking back to the article I read about low level fraud, the same applies and unless a true picture of crime is known, resourcing and funding may be misdirected, plus vulnerable people will continue to be exploited.
I do realise that by simply reporting crime doesn`t solve all the underlying problems, however, it is important to concentrate on what is in our control and make inroads into reducing crime and victims.
PC 1860 Mark Ranola.
Yateley Police Station.