With the high volume of crime in today’s social settings, Victimologists are increasingly examining influences that increase individual chances of victimization. When explaining the vulnerability of a victim, Routines activity theory is emphasized and states that for crime to occur, three components must coincide. The three components are as followed, presence of a motivated offender, presence of an attractive target(s), and the presence or absence of capable guardians (Weiss, lecture, 2/12/13).
Of the three components, victim attractiveness and capable guardianship I believe have the greatest influence on victimization. Victim attractiveness is weighed out by the offender in which he compares the potential risk and reward (rational choice theory) that may come about. Whether these potential targets are individuals, homes, or cars, several dimensions are examined by the offender to gain the greatest possible prize (reward) with the least amount of repercussions (risk).
With the presence of capable guardianship being a strong component to victimization, understanding the different aspect guardianship can be viewed as essential. Guardians do not necessarily have to be individuals or groups, but can also be technical gadgets such as motion detectors, burglar alarms, gates, fences, and lighting. Victim’s today ask themselves questions on how they can prevent becoming victim’s tomorrow.
Precautions for the prevention of victimization take place among several different levels including individual, household, institution, community, society. According to Karmen, “Victimiologists and criminologists have coined terms to describe the ways people try to diminish their odds of being harmed by incorporating risk-reduction activities into their everyday routines”(110).
The following two strategies will employ ideas on how to reduce victimization, risk avoidance, and risk management. While exercising risk avoidance, precautions are taken to prevent exposure to dangers by altering one’s physical environment. One universal term used is target hardening, which discourages offenders from attacking particular targets (Weiss, lecture, 2/5/12).
Different behaviors or change of routines such as walking with a group of peers at night, moving, or changing jobs are examples of avoidance strategies. The second important concept of risk reduction activities is risk management, which states that one can use certain tactics by minimizing the chances of being harmed when exposure is unavoidable.
Using defense strategies such as carrying pepper spray or a concealed weapon as protection are common practices. One incident involving myself in which I was victimized brings me to a urban setting in which I was outside of a convenience store. By definition I believe you could consider the area a “hot spot”. A hotspot can be defined as an environment or location where crime is more likely to occur in places with many attractive targets and little regulation or few capable guardians (Weiss, lecture, 2/12/13).
While outside of the store a pedestrian asked to borrow my phone, because it was late at night I acknowledged the pedestrian and allowed him to use my phone. As he was using my phone I gazed inside the store to see if anyone was in there, perhaps for any form of guardianship and as I turned my head I was punched across the face and the pedestrian had ran off with my phone.
The “players” involved in the incident were one victim, myself, who’s phone was stolen and was physically assaulted. The offender was the pedestrian who asked to use my phone, and who would later steal the device. I believe the individual who worked in the store could be labeled as a guardian by definition. I would tag myself as the direct victim, which is a primary person who experiences first hand harm. I believe being a victim of assault and the theft of my phone qualifies me as a direct victim.
When considering who the indirect victims are, I believe a broad category of people can be grouped together if you would follow the victimization’s ripple effect diagram (Weiss, lecture, 1/22/13). Since the time of the attack was during high school, people that were affected indirectly mainly included my parents, who supported me financially, had to buy me a new phone, and pay for my medical bills following the incident. As a victim it would be difficult in this specific incident to describe how risk management could be applied to the situation.
The offender had punched me, catching me off guard and fled the scene with my phone. I believe it has helped me become aware although for the future in which I will have different strategies and to be more familiar with risk management. With the incident occurring very late at night the convenience of having the possibility of guardianship or intervention was very slim.
The front of the store I thought would be a reasonable location for guardianship since there was adequate lighting and a cashier working inside. Unfortunately for me, the offender’s risk/reward was presumably in his favor since he was more familiar with the area than I was. Police agents were notified some time later but not in time to bring justice to the offender, in which neither formal nor informal sanctions of punishment came about. Routine activities theory suggests that the routines and lifestyle of some individuals increase their chances of victimization (Weiss, lecture, 2/5/13).
The three components in my case did all coincide. I believe I was an attractive target since I was by myself in a “hotspot” area late at night. What also increases my attractiveness I believed was the high reward with regard to low risk in relation to the time of night. Stealing a phone would be much more convenient at night than during day light hours, that among most crimes. In relation to convenience I believe the offender was in favor of this aspect as well. Again as I said earlier, I was in an unfamiliar neighborhood making me extremely vulnerable and resplendent.
I believe my vulnerability got to the best of me when the offender asked to borrow my phone to make an important phone call where I would later be mugged and robbed. I feel the time of night, again was in favor of the offender in relation to the absence of capable guardians. While studying victimology I believe there could have been plenty of precautions or avoidance strategies I could have exercised to avoid victimization. I believe there are many outlooks to how this incident could have been avoided or minimized. At an individual level I believe if I carried a concealed weapon or pepper spray I could have easily have defended myself from injury and theft.
At an institutional standpoint, I could point causality to the lighting of the store which if it were better, may have hindered the offender from causing the crime. From the community level, I do not put blame or pressure on asking where the police force was at the time of the incident. By avoiding victimization we must all be open minded each day to new routines and precautions. For example changing a routine of mine would be not to consume alcohol and be out late at night. In the earlier incident when I was mugged I was under the influence of achohol throughout the night, which may have made a more attractive target.
I feel that I could have minimized my risk and the possibility of becoming victimized if I was functioning at a sober moment. Another routine that I can change to minimize my potential of becoming victimized would be by not being out late at night, be in neighborhoods you are more aware of, and the carrying of a potential weapon. Since Institutions, communities and societies conform in larger populations I believe there can always be room for improvement and innovation.
Resources that help improve the decrease in victimization can be through quality of lighting among communities and institutions, video cameras and even public security groups like neighborhood watches. For example in my incident the store I was victimized in front of did not have video surveillance, but it is to my understanding that they are installing better resources to decrease future occurrences. Victimization prevention can be improved by not just technological advances but by being more aware and crime conscious. By using statistics on when our chances increase in victimization are other means of being crime conscious.