from a nation of small villages and towns to one of large urban environments. Because metropolitan areas provide a critical population mass, predatory criminals are better able to hide and evade apprehension. After committing crime, criminals can blend into the crowd, disperse their loot, and make a quick escape using the public transportation system. As the population became more urban, the middle class, fearing criminal victimization, fled to the suburbs. Rather than being safe from crime, the suburbs produced a unique set of routine
activities that promotes victimization risk. Both parents are likely to commute to work, leaving teens unsupervised. Affluent kids own or drive cars, date, and socialize with peers in unsupervised settings—all behaviors that are related to both crime and victimization. The downtown shopping district was replaced by the suburban shopping mall. Here strangers converge in large numbers, and youths hang out. The interior is filled with people, so drug deals can be concealed in the pedestrian flow. Stores have attractively displayed goods, encouraging shoplifting and employee pilferage. Substantial numbers of cars are parked in areas that make larceny and car theft virtually undetectable. Cars that carry away stolen merchandise have an undistinguished appearance: who notices people placing items in a car in a shopping mall parking lot? Also, shoppers can be attacked in parking lots as they walk in isolation to and from their cars. As car ownership increases, teens have greater access to transportation outside parental control. Thus, even though victimization rates in urban areas are still higher, the routine activities in the suburbs may also produce the risk of victimization. On December 15, 2013, attorney Dustin Friedland, of Hoboken, was fatally shot in the parking garage of The Mall at Short Hills, New Jersey, as he and his wife returned to their Range Rover. Basim Henry (shown here being escorted by police after an arraignment hearing) and four other suspects—Hanif Thompson, Karif Ford, and Kevin Roberts—were charged with felony murder, carjacking, and conspiracy. All four pleaded not guilty. On March 31, 2017, Henry was found guilty on all charges. His co-conspirators await their own trials. AP Images/Julio Cortez Research Support Research supports many facets of routine activities theory. There is evidence that the convergence of targets, guardians, and motivated offenders can predict area crime rates for crimes such as robbery. Cohen and Felson themselves found 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. Steven Messner and his associates found that as adult unemployment rates increase
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