Every holiday season, police departments see the same pattern - shoplifting, entering autos, burglaries, and general theft increase exponentially. This occurs until we ring in the New Year and our “super cop” selves solve all the crimes and lock up all the bad guys causing those crimes to decrease…right? Well, not exactly. Truth is those types of crimes increase because of the seasonal increase in “criminal opportunity”.
Let me explain. The holiday season gives the criminal a once a year opportunity to prey on our good citizens who are not concerning themselves with safety and security. Instead, they are concerned with running and buying, hustle and bustle, wrapping and cooking…oh yeah, and peace, good will and all that other stuff. The criminal element sees this as a special holiday of their own; let’s call it “Stealapalooza”. So, what do we do about it? Same old, same old each year right? Not this year!
We have all heard that the “greatest indicator of future crime is past criminal patterns”, so let’s use those past patterns to do some good. Even if you don’t have a criminal intelligence division, you surely have someone in your department who likes to dig into your crime data; perhaps it’s that officer who needs a publisher to approve their reports. Sure their over-detailed retelling of removing a cat from a tree has been annoying in the past, but now you can put their endless thirst for detail to good use!
Start with small focused searches of your high traffic commercial areas, looking for patterns of date and time in your theft reports. Make sure officer "ambitious" has access to multiple years of reports and have them compare the past holiday seasons theft reports, week to week. I said week to week, not week by week. What I mean is, compare the same weeks from different years to each other, and don’t compare November to December and so on. Compare December week one year one to December week one year two…apples to apples, not apples to oranges.
Seeing as you have chosen a paper hound to do this task, I am confident it won’t take them long to identify time of day, day of week patterns in your theft data. But now, what do you do with that data?
Trust it and the patterns contained in it! Begin to direct your officers to these past patterns, explaining what type of crime was in each pattern and the details surrounding those patterns. The proof will come in your increased arrests, but not only that, the increased officer presence in your newly proven holiday high crime areas will prevent more crime than you realize. (Until after Christmas and you compare this years’ numbers with your previous data.) Empower your officers with real data for real-time crime fighting and help your citizens to have a more peaceful holiday season!
If you want see how you can automate this planning process with the advanced data analysis of CommandCentral Analytics and CommandCentral Predictive, make sure to join me for my webinar on November 15th at 12 noon CST. Sign up here.
DJ Seals is an Industry Expert at Motorola Solutions.