Neighborhood – Laycock (1991)

Study Reference:

Laycock, G. (1991). Operation identification, or the power of publicity? Security Journal, 2, 67-72.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Neighborhood; Focused; Highly Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; Effective

What police practice or strategy was examined?

Property marking – which stems from the belief that the branding or labeling of property with a personalized symbol will protect it from theft or ensure its return if lost. The primary aim of this study’s initiative was to determine whether the program reduced domestic burglary among those who participated in the program. Three methods were employed to achieve a high “take up” (adoption) rate by residents in the target area: publicity, door-to-door visits by police or special constables, and free marketing equipment and door or window decals. Following the initial visit, participants completed a questionnaire recording that goods were “marked”. In order to check on the extent to which interest continued to be maintained, a further visit to participants was carried out six months after the initial launch.

How was the intervention evaluated?

Three distinct villages made up the target area. A house was regarded as participating in the program if, following a second police visit 3 months after the start of the program, a “property marked” decal was on display on a door or window. The rest of the households were considered nonparticipating households (control households). The evaluation examined changes in burglary for the target area overall and compared burglary rates among participating and non-participating households. The burglary rate is calculated using the number of burglary incidents rather than houses burgled.

What were the key findings?

In the 12-month period after the launch, there was a 40% reduction of burglaries reported in the target area. To determine whether the property marking was relevant to the reductions, comparisons were made among participants and nonparticipants. It was found that the reduction in incidents was only for those participating. While there was no reduction for the nonparticipants, there was also no significant increase in burglary incidents among nonparticipants (no displacement). In the second year, there was an even greater drop in burglaries.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

Property marketing campaigns that include placing notices on doors or windows can be effective in reducing burglaries among participating households without displacing burglaries to nearby non-participating households. Areas with high burglary rates may welcome the launch of a crime prevention initiative, and the easier it is for the public to participate in the program (such as placing a decal on a door or window), the more likely they will do so. The most plausible explanation for the additional decline in burglaries the second year was the extent of local publicity of the program, so it may be important to inform the public (and potential burglars) about the program.

Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?