An important dimension of Routine Activities Theory is the element of target suitability and selection. Even in situations where a motivated offender is somewhere that lacks active guardians, how and why they select one target rather than another is an important question in relation to situational crime prevention.
This was directly addressed by Felson and Cohen (1979), for example, in their “VIVA” mnemonic (Value, Inertia, Visibility, Accessibility) but Clarke (1999) has taken these general ideas further by arguing that some potential targets have what he calls “choice structuring properties”.
That is, rather than thinking about crime conventionally in terms of an offender setting out to commit a criminal act, arriving in a place where the act can be committed and then selecting a suitable target some targets – what Clarke terms “Hot Products” – have characteristics that may:
- Suggest the idea of theft to potential offenders and
- Encourage them to seek out settings where desired products may be found.
In other words, the existence of “hot products” contributes to various forms of both opportunistic and carefully-planned crime and if we understand the characteristics of these products – the things that make them desirable objects (in both the manifest sense of their value and the latent sense of motivating individuals to possess them) – this will contribute towards an understanding of the situational controls that need to be developed around such targets.
Clarke, in this respect, developed the mnemonic CRAVED to define the characteristics of hot products and I’ve developed two PowerPoint Presentations identifying each element in the mnemonic.
This version simply displays the mnemonic as a self-running presentation – you can use this version if you simply want to present these ideas to students.
This version offers the same information but can be used if you want to involve your students a little more. The presentation displays the CRAVED mnemonic but in order to display the meaning of each letter it has to be clicked. If you wanted to see if your students could work-out the characteristics of a hot product (such as a mobile / cell phone) this is the version to use.
If you want to look in more detail at either the CRAVED mnemonic or Clarke’s ideas about hot products you can download his 1999 chapter “Hot Products: understanding, anticipating and reducing demand for stolen goods”.