I just attended the International Problem Oriented Policing conference in Providence, Rhode Island, the showcase for exceptional police work. Over 500 cops from all over the world gathered to share innovations for cutting crime.
This year's winner of the Herman Goldstein problem solving award was the property crime squad from New South Wales, the first-ever win by police in Australia. They tackled an epidemic of ATM "ram raids" in shopping malls. All over Sydney criminals are using vehicles to smash through mall doorways at night. They'd then ram ATM machines and drag them off to a safe location for looting.
This unique brand of theft and burglary is now world-wide. In Sydney it resulted in millions of dollars in theft and damage.
Their analysis showed access control bollards outside the mall doors were ineffective, yet no ram raids occurred where bollards were inside the mall at ATMs. That led to installing internal bollards across the city. They added enhanced reporting, crime prevention education, and other CPTED target hardening to improve their response. Within two years this cut the yearly number of incidents from 68 to zero.
A year later when offenders by-passed bollards and used sophisticated gas explosions to break into ATMs, police employed their analytical approach. In this case the private sector installed gas detection and disabling equipment. Again they cut the attacks to zero from a peak of 54. Except they did it in half the time.
We may not always be able to predict new crime methods. But when they arise, old solutions won't work. Analysis does. That’s why we insist CPTED practitioners spend more time in problem diagnosis and not waste time in guesswork.