Sociology Index


Target suitability refers to a person or a property which an offender may approach to commit a crime. The idea is that some targets are more suitable than others. For example: An offender would view as suitable target the following:

a) A home which is not lit properly.

b) A woman or an elderly person standing alone without anybody in the vicinity.

c) A house with no visitors.

Target suitability consists of two main dimensions, namely the accessibility of the potential victim as a crime target and the attractiveness of the person as a target. The attractiveness of the target is related to its material or symbolic desirability for the offender. Target attractiveness can change from crime to crime and from offender to offender, and can play a greater role in certain crimes than in others (Finkelhor and Asdigian 1996).

The relationship between attractiveness and target suitability is further mediated by the target's accessibility. This involves the physical visibility and ease of accessibility of the crime target. Personal crimes require physical contact, or the threat of harm, between the offenders and the victims, thus the offenders must be able to corne into direct or close contact with their potential victims if any criminal interaction is to occur. This factor aIso involves the ability of the target to resist attack which, in the case of sexual assault, could include weight and size of the female victirn (Bennett 1991).

In sexual assault victims, substance use may play a role in target suitability by making women more easity accessible and perhaps more cornpliant. Victim pre-assault alcohol use may also decrease the ability of the victim to offer any forceful resistance to a sexual assault (Ullman, Karabatsos, and Koss 1999).

In daylight, burglars minimized the risks of being spotted by selecting "up-market" targets with better front cover and low occupancy that reflected the occupants' higher employment levels. After dark, townhouses with less cover were popular despite victims, fewer of whom were employed, raising more alerts. Evidence indicates consistency with routine activity theory, and target strategies appear rational, though shaped by differences in risks and offenders. Lifestyles and routine activities of victims, coupled with daylight and darkness changes, created burglary opportunities. Distinctive daylight and darkness strategies proved attractive to certain types of offenders, so that housing morphology, victims, their lifestyle, risks, rewards and burglar characteristics were distinctively aligned, providing the framework for target and area selection. Theories need to incorporate contrasts in daylight-darkness and housing morphologies, and relate to offender diversity.

Proactive Police Intervention and Imminent Social Change 
This paper suggests intervention strategies that might be used by the police to mitigate the effects of impending social changes that could impact the crime-related factors of target suitability, effective guardianship, and offender motivation. 
Abstract: Target suitability will increase with a continued proliferation of valuable, portable, compact, and readily saleable goods because of technological advances in electronics, telecommunications, computerization, and other high technology areas. The concept of motivated offenders is defined in terms of the probability of committing an antisocial act under specific circumstances, rather than as a quality applying to an individual in all circumstances. Anticipated developments with potential effects on the levels of offender motivation include the slowing rate of economic expansion, changes in the age structure of the population, sex role convergence, increased leisure time, decreased work years, and population redistribution. Probable social changes which can erode effective guardianship are reductions in household supervision of youth and in the percentage of households in which someone is home at any given time.