What Is Crime Displacement and Why Does It Matter to Your Business?

Posted by Alex Godwin-Austen on September 15, 2021

Every city experiences it. One neighborhood would be a low-crime area for decades and then crime starts climbing. You know this happens when neighborhood stores start installing bars on the windows and doors. There are also crime-ridden neighborhoods that flip flop and become safer as the crime rate falls.

There are many reasons this happens. One reason for crime rates dropping in a neighborhood is due to gentrification. This is the process of changing a neighborhood's dynamics as property owners buy and revamp properties. They may tear down the old and build new. As these neighborhoods receive a facelift, wealthier residents buy homes and, in some cases, demolish them to replace them with new homes.

The Definition of Crime Displacement

Then there's crime displacement. This occurs when crime moves from a place, target, offense, tactic, or time to another due to different scenarios, changes in everyday behaviors, or police crime-prevention efforts.

Research has linked crime displacement to problem-oriented policing. Coined by University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Herman Goldstein, problem-oriented policing is an approach in which law enforcement identifies and analyzes crime and disorder issues.

They use the analysis to create response strategies. Instead of taking the "means over ends" approach, they focus their efforts on organization and operating. A "means over ends" strategy is when the police put greater emphasis on methods than on goals. For "ends over means," the weight is on achieving goals and finding methods that work to do that.

Here are the different types of crime displacements as described by Arizona State University Center for Problem-Oriented Policing.

Spatial Displacement

This is the most common type of displacement. For this one, suspects change the location of where they commit the crime. In planning to commit a crime, the suspects look for another similar situation or site. For example, if they fail at an automotive dealership, they'll try at a different dealership. It's possible that they discovered the dealership had robust security and determined they'll have an easier time at another location with less security.

Target Displacement

In terms of target displacement, suspects change the type of place to another one. Maybe they were going to target an apartment building. They decided to change the target to a retail center. With the pandemic forcing many people to stay home and work from home, criminals switched away from apartment properties because there would be too many people around. Instead, they look for businesses that aren't busy.

Offense Displacement

In offense displacement, suspects change the type of crime they commit. Offenders may swap from burglary to the less serious crime of shop theft. These are very hard to measure and sometimes change without any intervention.

"Few studies have examined precise patterns regarding how the spatial distribution of (the same type of) crime changes post-intervention, but fewer still have examined changes in the distribution of other types of crime," the authors write in Crime Displacement: What We Know, What We Don't Know, and What It Means for Crime Reduction.

Tactical Displacement

In a tactical switch, offenders modify their strategy or method for committing the same crime. Say a crime ring plans to steal items from a retailer. Their initial method was to go into the retailer and grab as much as they can and leave.

Something changed that made it more likely they won't achieve their goal. So, they change the tactic to another way that's easier, such as grabbing the stuff from a delivery truck or loading zone. It's the same end result, but different tactic.

Temporal Displacement

And finally, temporal displacement is changing the time of day for committing the crime. The pandemic could've changed that. Prior to 2020, the police would patrol a neighborhood filled with commercial properties at night when few or no one was in the building.

With many buildings empty during the day, the police may have changed their tactics to patrol the areas in the day or split it between day and night. Offenders notice these changes and move their plans to a different time to reduce the chances of running into law enforcement.

Unfortunately, crime doesn't displace because the police department decides to increase patrolling. It's not that simple. The authors of the U.S. Department of Justice's Does Crime Just Move Around the Corner? explain this.

"Thus, overall, our quantitative measures offer strong support for prior studies that show that focused crime prevention efforts are not likely to have large displacement effects to areas nearby," the research's authors write. "In this sense, crime does not seem to simply 'move around the corner' as a result of hot spots policing efforts. And sometimes crime displacement efforts can affect businesses like apartment buildings and commercial properties like dealerships, warehouses, offices, and retail centers."

ASU explains that displacement is typically a negative outcome of crime prevention strategies. However, it can sometimes have a positive outcome such as displacing a crime or behavior from before the intervention with one that's less serious.

Why Crime Displacement Matters to Your Business

It's important for apartment managers and commercial properties to understand crime displacement because it can affect what happens on their properties. Moreover, businesses cannot depend on the police department to change their strategies and expect to see it benefit their own businesses.

While a business cannot control some of the offenders' decisions, they can do something to deter them to go elsewhere. That is by choosing the right security solutions.

Criminals commit crimes where it's easier. If they see an automotive dealership has put up multiple layers of security, they'll go find another dealership with less security. Armed with this information, you'll be in a better position to protect your company's assets and people.

How Commercial Properties Can Protect Their Assets

Many security solutions don't do anything until after a crime has already taken place. Fortunately, there's a solution that can deliver many benefits to encourage offenders to skip your property altogether. Video surveillance with remote monitoring is a proactive security system that can help deter crime. The technology pairs video analytics and human monitoring to catch suspicious activity before it becomes a problem.

Some commercial property managers assign employees to roam the building on a regular basis. Their role is to check for potential leaks, problems, power outages, and other things. You won't need anyone walking the property or even on-site when you invest in a video surveillance system with monitoring.

With video surveillance, experts install cameras in tactical places around the property. This puts eyes on the entire property while recording everything. The appearance of video cameras can divert some suspects. Add another layer of security by posting signs that say "Area under surveillance."

However, this doesn't mean it's okay to post fake cameras or working cameras that don't have anyone watching them. When companies do this, they put themselves at risk for liability issues.

Think about it. You had a long day, so you're having to run to the store on your way home. By the time you leave the store, there aren't many cars left in the parking lot. You walk to your vehicle and notice the video cameras. They might help to make you feel secure. However, if something happens and those cameras aren’t working properly, then it could become an expensive problem.

The sight of cameras, the warning signs, and monitoring via analytics and human intelligence together greatly lower the chances of crime or damage happening. The human part of the equation handles the decision-making in figuring out what action to take.

For example, if there's an intruder, the security professional monitoring the camera can issue a warning on on-site speaker. If the suspect does not flee, then the monitoring operator can call the police and direct them to the person's location while tracking their movements. Often, the police arrive and arrest the suspect before leaving the property.

Aside from monitoring for problems on the property, remote video surveillance can help:

  • Stop crime and damage
  • Oversee access
  • Cut risk and liability
  • Improve efficiencies
  • Identify potential hazards and problems

You can integrate security by adding an access control system to the video surveillance. This allows you to match the time stamp from the access control system with the video to see what took place at a specific time. This technology integration maximizes security and helps deliver a fast ROI. You'll be surprised at the affordability of video surveillance.

To boot, these technologies are contactless. It makes contactless entry possible while controlling what parts of the building employees can or cannot enter.

If your commercial real estate property has one, you may want to remove the front desk. Switch to an access management control system. People can enter without touching anything.

These are just some of the advantages of remote video surveillance for multifamily and commercial properties. If you'd like to learn more about commercial property security and how it can do more than catch criminals, check out remote video surveillance: more than just catching criminals guide. To get a customized security solution that fits your requirements and budget, contact us.

Posted in: Crime Prevention, Video Security Systems, Security Guards & Savings, Video Monitoring