Bag Theft In Bars

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Bag theft in bars: An analysis of relative risk, perceived risk and modus operandi
Aiden Sidebottom and Kate Bowers
UCL Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science, University College London

Crime is often found to concentrate in and around bars. Although numerous studies have looked at the relationship between bars and violent crime, research concerned with acquisitive crime in bars is lacking. This study focuses on bag theft in bars and presents analyses of 1023 recorded bag thefts in 2005 – 2006 from 26 bars of 1 chain in central London. We also report analysis of 317 customer surveys conducted in 14 bars of the same chain. In most crime prevention studies, a denominator is used to allow for a generalizable calculation of risk. Typically that denominator is selected by considering the crime in question and the commensurate population at risk: burglary using households, car theft using cars. For bag theft in bars various denominators exist: the number of seats, the number of customers or the number of bags per bar. This type of information is rarely available, and its impact on understanding crime risk is discussed here.

Furthermore, bags might be at differential levels of risk of theft depending upon where they are placed. By comparison with a relevant denominator, here we show that bags are most at risk when placed over a chair or on the floor. Although surveys indicate that the public tend to know this, their bag placement behaviour appears to be at odds with their (accurate) perception of risky bag theft locations. We therefore propose that targeted publicity and greater bag stowage options that enable customers to store bags off the floor are likely to be effective crime prevention measures to reduce bag theft in bars.