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  • Starr Advisory Services

The Homefront - Routine Activity Investigation

Updated: Nov 2, 2019

At Starr Advisory Services, one of our greatest rewards is creating a sense of security and safety for our clients that allows them to enjoy life to the fullest.

However, we believe that safety and security are earned through diligence. It's one thing to be optimistic and has a positive outlook, but safety and security are more than just a feeling or a positive disposition -- they are objectives that require a combination of intention and action. In other words, one must think about safety and take action to remain safe. It is this way of thinking that caused us to pioneer our Routine Activity Investigation services.

Routine activity theory

Starr Advisory Services derives our proactive approach to investigation and protection from a crime opportunity theory called routine activity theory, which states that the probability of crime increases when a motivated offender comes into contact with an attractive target, devoid of effective protection.

One of our clients is a decorated, high-ranking military officer. In 2016, he was assigned to a new post -- in Hawaii! Now that may sound glamorous, but the reality is that this officer was required to move (yet again) to a new community. The big difference this time was that he moved without his family. His two daughters are in high school and the family decided it would be best to allow the kids to finish school in Texas, surrounded by friends and extended family.

Our client was worried about leaving his family behind for the next three years. He had served in some of the toughest battles and war zones of the 21st century, but this new assignment in Hawaii had him more anxious than flying into Baghdad. His girls are older now; things are different.

Safety through Routine Activity Investigation

The officer and his family retain us to proactively manage their safety through Routine Activity Investigation. Based on routine activity theory, we conducted an initial safety assessment for the family to identify factors that might position family members or their property as attractive targets. We also investigated "effective protection" which refers to environmental factors such as public settings or lighting that provide additional protection to potential victims.

Finally, we assessed the different relationships that family members have with people outside the home to determine if any risk factors were present for "motivated offenders." In short, we conducted a risk assessment on the home and vehicles, conducted several background checks and interviews and discussed the daily activities and routines of family members to identify patterns that might increase or decrease the risk of becoming victims.

Risk factors

Our initial assessment identified several issues.

  • First, the home's exterior was poorly lit and the windows were covered by trees and shrubs. This made the house an attractive target for burglary.

  • Second, there were several entryways to the house that were not protected by the security system.

  • Third, the family frequently parked cars on the street instead of in the driveway or in the garage, which greatly increases the probability of car crime (especially in residential neighborhoods).

  • Fourth, we found that a couple of the family's young acquaintances had significant criminal records.

  • Fifth, we discovered that one of the daughters jogs the same path at nearly the same time every night, often passing through dark, unprotected areas.

We found many other risk factors as well; but, in short, it is safe to say that based on routine activity theory we discovered several issues pointing to potential motivated offenders, attractive targets and situations where protection was low (such as the secluded areas of the jogging trail).

Initial steps for protection

To increase the protection of the family and their property we took several initial steps. For example, we installed exterior lighting, cut back the trees and shrubs to expose the full windows, updated the security system, installed new locks, changed the garage door openers, cleaned the garage to make room for the cars, placed GPS systems on the cars for tracking in case of theft, inventoried and tagged valuable possessions, advised the family of certain acquaintances who had serious criminal backgrounds, and advised the family to vary their daily routines, especially the choice of jogging locations after dark.

After the initial assessment and "fixes", we continue to meet with the family on a regular basis. Once a month, we take the family through an assessment to take note of any significant changes in daily routines.

For example, we ask about new relationships, changes in after school activities, new neighbors, or other changes that may introduce new motivated offenders, position a family member or possession as an attractive target, or degrade protective measures such as lighting, alarms or locks.

We also conduct random surveillance to monitor the goings-on around the house and neighborhood and have even conducted surveillance on people we believe to be motivated offenders.

Our Proactive Approach to Routine Activity Investigation

We are confident that our proactive approach to Routine Activity Investigation has mitigated several risk factors for the family. But the most important outcome is that the officer and his family feel confident that their security and safety are proactively managed even as the officer completes his duty thousands of miles away.

It is important to note that the entire family is engaged in the process and family members have clearly expressed that they feel more secure as a result of our proactive style of investigations. They do not feel constrained in any way, nor do they feel a loss of privacy. On the contrary, they have expressed that they feel safer now than they have in years and that it is comforting to know they have taken a proactive approach to their own safety and security (and that someone has their back).

Safe and secure environment

It is incredibly fulfilling to help create a safe and secure environment for our clients. But it is especially fulfilling when we can help protect a military family while a parent is away fulfilling his or her duty. We encourage you to read more about routine activity theory and to take a proactive approach to maintain your own safety and security. But if you ever require the help of a professional investigator or personal protection officer, do not hesitate to contact Starr Advisory Services, an agency that employs Fort Worth, private investigators, and personal protection officers.

For help with family investigations, please contact us at Starr Advisory Services. We specialize in helping prosperous families with domestic investigations, property investigations, and business investigations.

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