Routine Activity Theory

Categories: ActivityPsychology

This paper will define and explain the significance of Routine Activities Theory It will discuss how it can effect or alter everyday life, way of lives, and criminal offense included. It will also reveal the 3 aspects involved in crime and victimization, and offer examples of each of the three factors. It will reveal similarities in between regular activities theory and lifestyles approach. An example of how somebody might become a victim to the theory. All information in this report was collected from a series of books required for the Criminal Justice Program at Keiser University of Lakeland.

Routine Activities Theory is a fundamental description on why criminal activity happens.

There are different social theories that are learned through the Crook Justice program, and how they use to criminal activity and victims of criminal activity. With all those theories out there that offer explanations on why or how to keep criminal offense from being committed, in my opinion, the Routine Activities Theory (RAT) discusses it the very best.

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Regular Activities Theory, established by Lawrence E. Cohen and Marcus K. Felson (1979 ). Routine Activities Theory defined is the view that victimization results from the interaction of three daily factors: the accessibility of ideal targets, the absence of capable guardians, and the existence of inspired offenders. Illustration 1: Regular Activities Theory.

Criminology: The Core, Fourth Edition by Larry J. Siegel Page.73 The very first condition for criminal activity is that an appropriate target should be readily available. There are three categories of a target. Targets can either be: An individual a things a location

No matter how suitable a target is, a crime will not take place unless a capable guardian is absent and a most likely culprit is present.

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The second condition is that a capable guardian who would prevent a criminal offense from taking location is absent. A capable guardian can be anything, either an individual or thing, these can be formal or casual. Some examples of a capable guardian would be:

Police patrol
property owners
community watch groups
security guards
good lighting and alarm systems
personnel or colleagues
good friends and neighbors

When a suitable target is unguarded by a capable guardian, there is a greater threat of a criminal activity will happen. Likely offenders have many different reasons for committing crime and possible reasons why they commit offenses varies. Examples of some of the reasons people may commit crime are:

to feed their drug habit

east to get away and with great rewards
Society/ Experience/ Environment
living where crime is acceptable
peer pressure
thrill or pleasure
lack of education
poor employment or unemployed
family background or history
mental illness
poor housing or community
rebellion against authority
prejudice against certain minority or ethnic groups
belief that crime in general or particular crimes are not wrong as a protest on a matter of principle

An individual may be willing to commit crime if given the opportunity, but if that opportunity never arrives, the crime will not occur. Ones routine may influence the amount of exposure one has with potential offenders, how valuable or vulnerable they or their property is as a target, and how well guarded they or their property may be. Routine activities theory and the lifestyle approach are similar in a number of ways. Agreeing that a person's living arrangements can affect the risk of being a victim and those who live in unguarded area are at the mercy of motivated offenders. Both the theories rely on four basic concepts:

proximity to criminals
time of exposure to criminals
target attractiveness
and guardianship

here are five important components of lifestyle, identified by research as contributing to opportunities for criminal victimization. Each of these factors has an important influence on crime, the combination of these factors, as indications of lifestyles that may best explain criminal victimization.

social activities
alcohol and drug use
economics status
and structural aspects of communities

In their research, Cohen and Felson found that crime rates increased between 1960 and 1980 during the day because the number of adult caretakers (guardians) at home decreased as a result of the female increase in the workforce. An example of how someone could become a victim, using Routine Activities Theory would be: An individual that lived in a highly populated area, and worked a third shift job. They followed the same schedule everyday and worked Sunday through Friday and left the house every night around eleven o'clock, then returned home every morning around eight o'clock. The neighborhood is by an apartment complex known for criminal activity. The house is unarmed and the streets are poorly lighted.

A motivated offender looking for a score has noticed that this individual always leaves at the same time every night, and returns home at the same time every morning. This making the individual's home a suitable target and with lack of a capable guardian. In conclusion, Routine Activities Theory is the idea that crimes only occur when three elements are present: motivated offender, suitable targets, and absence of lack of capable guardianship. When these three elements come together in place and time, the chance of a criminal event occurring is greatly increased.


Cullen, Francis T. and Wilcox, Pamela University of Cincinnati Encyclopedia of Criminological Theory, Copyright 2010 by Sage Publications, Inc.

Grant, Heath B. and Terry, Karen J.
Law Enforcement in the 21st Century- Second Edition, Copyright 2008, 2005 Pearson Education, Inc.

Myers, Laura B; Myers, Larry J. and Samaha, Joel
CJUS 2009-2010 Edition, Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning

Siegal, Larry J.
Criminology: The Core, Fourth Edition, Copyright2011, 2008 Wadsworth, Cengage Learning

Taylor, Robert W. and Fritish, Erie J.
Juvenile Justice Polocoes, Programs, and Practices, Third Edition, Copyright 2011 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Wilstrom, Per-Olof H.
Oxford Bibliographies Online, Authority and Innovation for Research, Oxford University Press, Copyright 2011

Updated: Jul 06, 2022
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Routine Activity Theory. (2016, Jun 07). Retrieved from

Routine Activity Theory essay
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