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The prevention of mobile phone theft: a case study of crime as pollution; rational choices and consumer demand.

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posted on 11.04.2012, 13:27 by Jen Mailley
This thesis makes two contributions to environmental criminology. The first contribution is a rational choice event model for mobile phone thieves. This is based on interviews with 40 mobile phone thieves. In addition, the deterrent effects of 23 designs of phone are assessed. Comparisons are made between the responses of offenders and non-offenders; and between experienced offenders and less experienced offenders. The results show that mobile phone thieves make discerning choices about which model of phone to steal at the point of theft. The factors affecting handset choice reflect Clarke s (1999) CRAVED characteristics. Mobile phone thieves are differentially deterred by a variety of design solutions, the most effective of which reduce the resale value of stolen handsets. In contrast with offenders, non-offenders are more easily deterred, and statistically significantly more deterred for five of the 23 designs presented in this thesis; do not appreciate the importance of resale value; and are not so aware of the possibilities for circumventing or neutralising security technology. The differences between offender and non-offender responses mean that offenders are arguably best placed to assess product use and misuse in the process of designing-out crime. The second contribution of this thesis is a Mobile Phone Theft Index which controls for phone availability in the absence of handset sales data. Mobile phone theft is arguably a form of pollution (Roman and Farrell, 2002) and can, therefore, be controlled using traditional pollution control instruments (Farrell and Roman, 2006). Informing the public of their risk of victimisation according to handset ownership would make security a marketable aspect of handset design, incentivising industry to decrease theft rates. Industry action to date shows evidence of obstructionism and pre-regulatory initiatives (Newman, 2004) meaning that a novel instrument such as the Index is necessary to alter the current status quo where industry costs UK society an estimated £1.2 billion per year (Mailley and Farrell, 2006).



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


© J.C. Mailley

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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