I was fascinated but not surprised about the impact you can make on reducing crime in your local area – simply by being more entrepreneurial and opening a local retail or manufacturing business. Well - any business where people are employed and clients visit you.
Worldwide, there has been an uptick in mixed use development – combining residential and commercial properties in the same area. This makes it an easier commute and strengthens the local character.
Some interesting recent research showed that when retail establishments in Los Angeles were closed, crime jumped in these areas. Typical crimes that were reduced with people meandering about (i.e. foot traffic) are the usual ones - car and home break-ins.
People do speculate that certain businesses attract crime but this is especially not evident in this study (where medical marijuana dispensaries were shut down – Yes !). Similar patterns were shown for restaurants that were shut down – crime jumped with the absence of people circulating on the streets. Foot traffic provides free and casual surveillance. Naturally enough, you would say that the additional foot traffic in a neighbourhood actually provides additional thieves but this is not borne out with this research.
One key factor common to retail establishments, whether marijuana dispensaries or restaurants, is that they generate foot traffic. And with foot traffic comes informal surveillance. The researchers calculated that a retail business such as your local restaurant or supermarket typically cuts out a huge $US30,000 pa in local burglaries and theft.
So having additional ‘eyes on the street’ (as Jane Jacobs remarked in her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities) makes a huge difference to crime.
Build and They Will Come
So build your next engineering business close to a residential area. You will be doing a huge favour to local home owners in terms of reducing crime and helping your community cut down on policing (and indeed in hospital) costs. And, of course, in providing jobs.
Thanks to Professors Tom Y.Chang and Mireille Jacobson for reporting on their research in the Harvard Business Review entitled: Research: When a Retail Store Closes, Crime Increases Around It.
Rudy Giuliani makes a good point: It's about time law enforcement got as organized as organized crime.
Yours in engineering learning