Preventing Burglary

According to my neighborhood newspaper (the Roslindale transcript), there has been a rash of late-night home burglaries in the area lately. Although the paper calls them “robberies,” they are probably more accurately burglaries (and thefts). Common law burglary requires breaking and entering the dwelling of another during the night with the intention to commit a felony therein; robbery requires taking property from a person by force. (Modern statutory definitions of burglary typically do not require the “night” element).

In any event, my point is not to quibble with the legal terminology, but rather to question the preventitive measures. From the article:

Captain James Hasson of District E-5 said that this robbery does not fit the mold of the Bellevue Hill break-ins. … Hasson said he was very shocked because Rendall Road is a beautiful, quiet neighborhood that doesn’t normally see violent crimes. He added that there have been extra patrols of the Bellevue Hill area and there will now be extra patrols of the Rendall Road area.

On a much smaller scale, this response is similar to the air travel liquid ban that occurred shortly after the foiled transatlantic bomb plot from last August. Obviously a complete ban on liquids will make it less likely that a terrorist will concoct a liquid explosive plot, but does nothing to actually deter attacks overall. Similarly, once a house on a particular street has been burglarized, adding additional patrols on that street might make another attack on that street less likely, but I don’t see how it makes the community as a whole any safer.

More likely this response makes the community less safe. Assuming the total amount of police protection hasn’t changed but just been reallocated, there are now other areas with less coverage. Even a dumb criminal should be able to figure out to avoid heavily policed areas. Unless you actually live on the street that is now getting the additional protection, I would not be reassured by this news.