A software program could turn out to be the key to helping citizens prevent property crime and deploying police where they are most needed. North Carolina’s use of the system may be a couple of years away, but the developers’ hopes are high that the project will be a useful model for other types of crime and other communities.
Operation Swordfish is the result of collaboration between software developers and crime pattern researchers. The program builds on the researchers’ conclusion that burglary victims are often hit a second time soon after the initial break-in, and that neighbors of those victims are often the next targets. In fact, the Institute of Crime Science found that burglaries at the homes of the victims’ neighbors and the neighbors of those neighbors can occur within two weeks of the victim’s break-in.
What the software does is actually pretty straightforward. First, it identifies the locations of recent burglaries. Then, it identifies the properties that are direct neighbors of each victim’s property. The third pass produces a list of the properties that neighbor the direct neighbors.
The prevention comes in with visits from law enforcement officers. Not more than 24 hours after the crime, officers visit the victim and assess the property’s vulnerabilities. Based on this audit, the officers make specific recommendations for improving security — things like replacing or improving window locks. Officers also give the victims a number of prevention gadgets, including alarms, locks and timers.
What happens next? We’ll discuss that in our next post.
Source: AOL News, “Police computer to stop crime before it happens,” Sarah Coles, Sept. 19, 2012
Our Raleigh, North Carolina, practice works with people who have been accused of committing a theft crime like the burglaries referred to in this post. You can learn more about our firm at the criminal defense page of our website.