The Good and Bad of R.A.T. Theory.
Why do people commit crime? It depends on who you ask and how you look at it, also what you define crime as. There are many theories out there about why people commit crime.
One of these theories is Routine Activities Theory. Routine activities theory was first articulated in a series of papers by Lawrence Cohen and Marcus Felson. Crime and victimization involve the intersection of three factors: targets, guardians, and motive. The following quote gives a description of these three motives.
Cohen and Felson assume that both the motivation to commit crime and the supply of offenders are constant. Every society will always have some people who are willing to break the law for revenge, greed, or some other motive. The volume and distribution of predatory crime (violent crimes against a person and crimes in which an offender attempts to steal an object directly) are closely related to the interaction of three variables that reflect the routine activities of the typical American lifestyle:
1. The availability of suitable targets, such as homes containing easily salable
2. The absence of capable guardians, such as police, homeowners, neighbors,
friends, and relatives,
3. The presence of motivated offenders, such as large number of unemployed
The presence of these components increases the likelihood that predatory crime will take place. Targets are more likely to be victimized if they are poorly guarded and exposed to a large group of motivated offenders such as teenage boys.
Cohen and Felson argue that crime rates increased between 1960 and 1980 because the number of adult caretakers at home during the day (guardians) decreased as a result of increased female participation in the workforce. While mothers are at work and children in day care, homes are left unguarded. Similarly, with the growth of suburbia and the decline of the traditional neighborhood, the number of such familiar guardians as family, neighbors, and friends diminished. At the same time, the volume of easily transportable wealth increased, creating a greater number of available targets. Skyrocketing drug use in the 1980s created an excess of motivated offenders, and the rates of some crimes, such as robbery, increased dramatically. Falling crime rates in the 1990s would be explained by a robust economy, which decreases the pool of motivated offenders, and the growing number of police officers, witch increases guardianship. (Siegel 58:59)
Routine Activities Theory can be broken down into three easy parts. The first is lack of capable guardians. These include: Police officers, homeowners, and security systems just to name a few. The next is a suitable target. This includes: Unlocked homes, expensive cares and easily transportable goods. The last part of R.A.T. theory is a motivated offender. Some likely candidates are: teenage boys,...