Kidnapping John was an ordinary struggling employee of a newspaper firm. One cannot tell by appearances what the mind is capable of, or is it situations that can arouse criminal intelligence in any one of us. However, it is when thoughts transform into actions that crime is committed and what is it that causes this transformation: opportunity. Crime Script John sat thinking of possible options. It has been a mistake to switch two jobs in three years. Not only did he not have a decent designation, he barely made enough to sustain himself, let alone repay the $4000 loan installments. Mr.
Woolmar, the Boss, did not even know his full name properly in the six months that he had worked, let alone give him any financial help. He would have to do something drastic, something quick and maybe even something illegal. And it would have to be alone. Nothing in office, there were too many cameras. The next-door neighbours just had a baby… kidnapping? Yes, but not a baby. Rob someone, take their cash, ATM, and car. Parking lots are good for that, no police, and hardly any public to get alerted and call 911. Yes, parking lots, that is where most crimes are committed, at least in the movies.
Resources and setting up John required first of all, a gun. The only person whom he knew had a gun was his colleague, Sarah, who after attempted burglary at her residence had obtained an official permit to keep a gun for self-defense. He mentioned having to write an article on gun engineering and asked if he could borrow it for a few hours…office time only. He would take it at twelve ‘o clock, study the components, and return it at five before she leaves for home. Sarah, as her permit allowed her to carry the gun on her person, bought it to office the next day.
All he cared about was that it was small in size, not too visible in his coat. Could have been a toy gun, some do look scarier than the real thing. The mask was cut out of a ladies polo neck shirt that he had bought at Labels yesterday, two holes for the eyes, a little slit for breathing and one for talking. Black, and cotton, he did not want the stifling nervous feeling to make him faint. A sports bag, to carry everything and sports gear, to look like: ‘I have just left gym and an going home. ’ This disguise also allowed him to wear joggers, which made less noise as he approached.
Another factor that made him soundless was the linoleum floor of the parking lot. Linoleum is especially designed to absorb noise and shock from car tyres so that parking lots are serene. Little did floor manufacturers know how this ‘benefit’ would transform into a security hazard. He had also chosen a parking area that is mostly vacant during office lunch hours. A block away from his office was Hallman’s Securities: home to few of the richest brokers in the city. These were people who had it all and more. For them, a few thousand dollars amiss would not matter.
All this was information gained from his very own newspaper articles. Actors and doing it As soon as it was One, John changed into his sports gear in the restroom, signed out ‘Gone for lunch’ walked two blocks down and started jogging as he approached the parking lot. A few stretches and he even smiled at a few lady lawyers walking out with their coffee flasks who waved back distracted. Most cars he had noticed parked in the morning, as he had stopped on his way to office, were not there. The red BMW was missing, it had particularly caught his attention because of its shine.
The guard on duty was nowhere to be seen, lunch hours for everyone, hopefully. He continued with his stretches and hoped for the gentleman who had parked his Vitz at exactly 8:45, at the other end, to come out after a few more minutes when the movement died down. And there he was, navy blue shirt, maroon tie, grey trousers and the salt and pepper hair. Not really elderly enough to make John feel guilty, more of a younger wealthy CEO variety. John could now understand ‘rob the rich, give to the poor. ’ Ducking under the fichus undergrowth, John quickly put on his mask and sprinted to the other end.
The gentleman nonchalantly put the keys in the lock, the rustling of leaves in the wind providing further cover to Johns hurried arrival. It was only “I have a gun, do as I say! ’ that made him stop, stiffen and put his hands up. “Get into the car, fast, don’t look back! ” and John crouched low in the back seat. Once in the car, he could talk more, explain his situation, now that the gun was out of the view. “Give me your wallet, watch, and anything else that you are carrying! And you had better not hold anything back or else… ” said John as he poked the nozzle into his ribs.
But the white-faced man was too shocked to comply. “Can’t you hear me?!! ” and the second jolt startled his poor victim into action. John felt like an actor in a play. He had to force the ruthlessness into his voice; it was not coming naturally. Maybe that is how all criminals feel the first time. He wished he had not started this, but it was too late now, he had started committing the offence, might as well go all the way and reap the reward. At least he could thank his oratory skills for not fumbling with the words or faltering in volume to give away his own apprehensions.
“Now you have to drive to the nearest ATM, NORMALLY, smile at people as they pass, NO ONE MUST SUSPECT, YOU UNDERSTAND! ” said John, and the car started. Both the villain and the victim were on auto-pilot, like a robot drove the grey-haired man, knowing exactly where to turn, to stop at red lights, stare straight ahead, not looking here or there. John kept his gaze and nozzle fixated at his victim, ignoring the need to look around lest he give away the game. It was a slow mechanical drive. The car stopped at the ATM. It was one of those booth varieties.
“I will wait outside” said John. “Take out your maximum and be out in two minutes, or I will come and shoot you inside. ” Those two minutes seemed like eternity. John kept looking at his watch. What if the man had two cell phones, and had given John only one. What if he will look up the window and see a blue uniform holding a gun at him? A girl passed by the pavement, oblivious of everything except the tune in her I-pod. Then he heard the thud of the booth and saw a flash of Navy blue. Alerted to his teeth, he only breathed as he realized it was his fellow, not the cops.
The man turned around and handed the cash. “That was all the limit allowed. ” Silence as John counted the nine hundred and fifty dollars. Add that to the six hundred in the wallet, the five hundred the Tissot would go for, John realized that he would have to execute Part B of the plan, steal the car. Anyway it would be better to have the car to drive off in than to have to disappear from the crime on foot. “Drive and stop where I tell you! ” China town was what John had in mind, there were less phone booths and more Chinese than American in that area.
It would take longer for an American to get help there than anywhere else in New York. Jumping onto the passenger seat, John shouted’ “Get Out! ” at the back alley. Yanking the mask off and driving at full speed John neither looked left or right as he speeded to the little repair shop run by the Mexican who had repaired the almost falling-apart foxy belonging to his Indian friend, Ranjeet. That was the only place he had ever seen a shady deal done, when suddenly a brand new Volvo was deposited by two high schoolers who walked away with cash in their pockets and smiles on their faces.
The economic and emotional decadence that had disgusted him then, seemed so all right and understandable now. A crime does not feel like a crime if your needs are greater than the needs of your victim. Here too, the actions seemed rehearsed. Stop the car near the garage, walk inside, but a cigarette and open the packet to find the 4 smokes and the amount the Mexican feels is appropriate for the new arrival. Which was appropriate for John as well: A full two thousand and five hundred dollars. He may even give four hundred to charity to wash away his sin.
He was just waiting for a taxi as he saw the Vitz being slowly pushed into the repair shop and the gate being closed. A few directions to the Indian cab driver, a speedy drive to office, a rush to the restroom where John changed back into his office attire, leaving the clothes and joggers in the huge trash bin, John was back at his desk at 2:15. “Rather early lunch? Was it a date? ” asked Bob, his colleague “Yeah, sort of” said John as he finished formatting the article on why it is dangerous to polish guns on your own inside the house.
“Here Sarah, thanks a lot, how do u use this thing? ” Rational Choice Theory Human beings are rational creatures. That is why God created heaven and hell. We make the right choices there, because God is always watching. But cops are not always watching, so it is possible for would-be criminals to get away with a lot of things since “where there is a will, there is a way. ” Crime arises when motivation meets opportunity. One may have the mind but not the means. If crimes such as Johns are to be prevented, either one or both of these factors would have to be reduced/removed from society.
Motivation for crimes of financial nature, such as Johns, arises from need. It is not a case of a rich man trying to get richer by swindling the shareholders of his company. It is performing the big crime of kidnapping for a few thousand dollars. As said ‘Rationality involves an end/means calculation” (Sutton). Kidnappers may face lengthy terms in prison. The harsh sentences imposed and the poor risk-to-benefit ratio compared with other crimes have caused kidnapping for ransom virtually to die out in the United States. It may be that John was not aware of the consequences of getting caught.
Here the question arises as to what were the violent actions the loan shark had threatened to take, that provoked John to risk something greater. A loan shark, is someone who illegally charges interest over the state’s legal limit, which could range up to, or even over 100% and threatens violence or damage to a person’s reputation. John could have come clean to the local police and requested for security. However, if the motivating factor was damage to reputation, it would have been disastrous for John as his career as a writer in a newspaper. A more comprehensive approach is needed to reduce the incidence of such crimes.
The government may need to create public awareness about the seriousness and penalties of committing various crimes so that the law is not taken lightly in times of stress. The underlying problem, however, is economical. “With the new decade of 2010 upon us, little has changed and further victimizing seems inevitable as financial desperation increases globally in more households” (Sifakis, 1999). The government must crack down on the loan shark system and introduce schemes of credit borrowing from the State itself depending on merit and below market interest rates. In fact, why not without interest at all?
Interest has been looked down upon in a few religions of the world because it makes the poor, poorer and the rich, richer. Had John had access to such a borrowing system, he may not have fallen prey to a local loan shark. John’s situation mentions that he has no family or friends. A very often and sad situation in the new American society is the loneliness of the individual. In other cultures, expenses and liabilities are shared by family members especially those living in a joint family system. Such a system also automatically keeps an emotional check and an eye on every member where deviance in behaviour or mood is immediately noticed.
Problems are discussed and sorted out. When society becomes individualistic and there is less and less of a support structure, financial and psychological factors combine to breed crime Motivation is all in the mind. But the body acts only if there is an opportunity. If there is a situation in which the crime can be performed. John chose not to rob a bank because he did not have access to professional assistants. John chose not to defraud his employer because he lacked the IT expertise and there were surveillance cameras in office. He had the motivation for both of these, but did not have the opportunity so the crimes were not committed.
Therefore the government needs to focus on situational crime prevention. This includes making public areas safer for people. Parking lots and parks often get deserted. More surveillance cameras must be installed. Security guards must be employed in shifts. Criminals commit crime mostly because they think they will not get caught. A general awareness of crime prevention must be installed in society. Situational crime prevention does not mean obtaining permits for guns. The more guns there are out there, the more the chances of anyone getting hurt. Obviously a gun is made to kill. One in ten will.
The danger of it falling into the wrong hands is too great. Guns get jammed and fire at the wrong times. There have been numerous deaths around the world because of guns kept at home. Another factor in urban crime prevention is to assimilate the various ethnicities of a metropolitan into the community whole-heartedly. “Immediate steps can be taken to reclaim the urban environment and recreate a sense of community. Migrants in multicultural cities, who have internalized the culture conflict between two worlds, can be assisted in gaining new identities and allegiances” (United Nations Team, 1995).
Poverty-stricken, derelict areas on the outskirts of metropolitans are like breeding areas or crime ports, where goods can be deposited, sold, purchased out of need but always with a racial revenge in the subconscious. In John’s case the Mexican was a character, which symbolized this mafia. If at the end of his crime, John did not have a place to sell the Vitz, the crime may not have arisen at all, since no one would be carrying four thousand dollars cash anyway. The crime had not been completed until John sold the car.
The victim had time to contact the authorities. However, in such situations a victim’s reactions are often late especially if the aggressor is strong or loud. While the victim was inside the ATM booth he could have looked into the CCTV camera and made signs to indicate his situation. A compulsory self-defense course must be introduced at all private and public schools so that victims are at least able to respond for help at the right time and place. This would ensure a lot of criminals being taken off guard.
After a crime is committed, it is the States responsibility to punish. “The Swiftness, Severity, and Certainty of punishment are the key elements in understanding a law’s ability to control human behavior” (Keel, 1997). The rational choice theory states that the benefit of the crime is greater than the pain: ‘Choice can be controlled through the perception and understanding of the potential pain or punishment that will follow an act judged to be in violation of the social good, the social contract,” (Lilly, Cullen and Ball, 1995).
Whenever a crime attempt is aborted, a criminal punished, the story must flash on the media and be registered into the minds of the public, for human beings learn readily by example. Some societies go to the extent of public floggings and executions, so that all ye may learn. Utilizing the media for the good of the community is a governmental responsibility. The State may do much but it is the power of the people that can also be quite a deterrent to crime. ” Self-help schemes have proven highly effective in well-organized communities.
Specific crime prevention measures, such as neighbourhood block watches and neighbourhood courts, work best in partnership with local authorities, scrupulously avoiding vigilantism. ” (United Nations Team, 1995. ) In many metropolitans, for example in Karachi, citizens have joined hands with the local area police to make their localities / cities safer places to live in; an organization named CPLC (Citizens Police Liaison Committee) with the slogan ‘Lets beat crime together’ has distributed car stickers with phone numbers easily displayed so that anyone who notices anything suspicious may inform it. Conclusion
All efforts of the State and citizens alike must be more focused on eradicating ‘the way’ (that is, opportunity) because it is easier to eradicate than ‘the will’ (that is, motivation), which requires a long-term strategy. ‘To err is human” and the devil may open his workshop anywhere but as long as there is no opportunity, crime commission does not occur. The rational choice theory states that motivation and opportunity combine for crime commission. However sometimes motivation is not a factor at all. Even if the State and community are ideal, there are serial killers and psychopaths who commit crimes only because there are opportunities.
John had the opportunity to kidnap and commit theft and he would have done it even if he were a serial killer who had a fetish for killing grey-haired men, instead of having been driven to it because of financial problems. Sometimes it is just temptation or the thrill of doing something daring and forbidden, that replaces motivational factors such as poverty or racism. So we may conclude that opportunity of crime can be equal to possibility of crime and though economic and sociological environments must be such that they deter crime, it is more relevant for the authorities to focus on situational crime prevention.
References Kopel, D. B. (1995). Guns: who should have them?.. New York: Prometheus books. Keel, R. O. (1997). Rational Choice and Deterrence Theory. Lilly, J. Robert, Cullen, Francis T. and Ball, Richard A. (1995). Criminological Theory: Context and Consequences (2nd ed. ). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc. Sifakis, C. (1999). The Mafia Encyclopedia Checkmark Books Sutton, D, Ronald V. Clarke. Retrieved May 17th, 2010 from http://www. criminology. fsu. edu/crimtheory/clarke. htm United Nations. (1995, April). Stop Crime. Retrieved May 17th, 2010, from http://www. un. org/ecosocdev/geninfo/crime/dpi1646e. htm
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