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Routine Activity Investigation 

At Starr Advisory Services, We offer a unique Routine Activity Investigation service for our clients' needs. To create our Routine Activity Investigation service, we applied the tenets of routine activity theory

What is Routine Activity Investigation?

Routine Activity Investigation is a style of private investigation pioneered by Starr Advisory Services to meet the unique needs of prosperous families. In short, Routine Activity Investigation is a proactive form of investigation based on an important theory of criminology: routine activity theory.

Most people wait to hire a private investigator until they suspect that something bad is happening or has already happened. Only the most prepared families and businesses work with private investigators to prevent something bad from happening in the first place. This is what we mean by "proactive" investigation. In other words, we believe that families and businesses can take many steps to mitigate the risk factors of becoming a victim. It's kind of like going to the dentist for check-ups and cleanings before a cavity develops instead of waiting until you need a root canal.

Our Routine Activity Investigation Service

To create our Routine Activity Investigation service, we applied the tenets of routine activity theory. Routine activity theory is an influential theory of criminology developed by Marcus Felson and Lawrence E. Cohen. The basic premise of routine activity theory is that crime and deception happen when a (1) motivated offender crosses paths with a (2) attractive target in the (3) absence of effective oversight or protection.


This theory can be applied to many situations that involve families, property, and business. Below are some examples: 

Family Cases

The most common serious family cases involve assaults and other violent crimes. (Infidelity is the most common family issue, and can be viewed through the lens of routine activity theory, but is not a primary threat to family safety in most cases.)


Assault may happen when a motivated offender (usually someone known to the family) becomes familiar with the daily routines of an attractive target (such as the child of a wealthy family) who experiences periods of ineffective oversight or protection (such as jogging alone, at night, in a secluded location).
This is the perfect recipe for a motivated offender. It is important to note that victims should never be blamed for being assaulted. At the same time, it is also important to understand that families can take steps to mitigate the risks associated with becoming a victim.


It is also important to note that the phrase "attractive target" refers to the value of the target and the ease with which the target may be victimized; the phrase has nothing to do with the physical attractiveness of the target. (Academic terms are often poorly appropriated and insufficiently explained in everyday contexts.)

Property Cases

The most common crime in affluent residential neighborhoods is car crime. A motivated offender may be a person who is looking for a quick score to fund his or her substance abuse disorder. An attractive target may be a car parked on the street with unlocked doors and valuables visible on the car seat. Ineffective oversight or protection, in this case, may be the lack of street lighting where the car is parked or large trees or shrubs that create places for motivated offenders to hide. 

Keep in mind that it is fairly common for groups of motivated offenders to roam affluent neighborhoods late at night, pulling on door handles to find an unlocked car. When they find one (and they almost always do) they will either steal the car or steal from it. Car crime is only one example of property crimes that fit the routine activity theory.

Business Cases

Business crime, also called white-collar crime, is extremely common and rarely prosecuted. Motivated offenders are usually trusted employees who have access to financial accounts or merchandise and experience some new financial hardship. 

The attractive target in this scenario is a bank account that is rarely checked by the business owner or inventory that is poorly managed. The ineffective oversight or protection is the all-too-typical lack of checks and balances for financial accounts or the lack of security systems and frequent inventory checks to keep tabs on company assets and property.

Initial Risk Assessment

Routine Activity Investigation is a proactive style of investigation pioneered by Starr Advisory Services to "harden" families, property and businesses by identifying motivated offenders before they strike, increasing the safety of potential targets and increasing effective oversight and protection. We achieve these objectives by conducting an initial risk assessment. This risk assessment evaluates the routine activities and processes that involve families, property, and businesses.


During the initial risk assessment, we investigate people and situations to identify and mitigate risk factors. For example, during the risk assessment phase, we frequently uncover motivated offenders by running background investigations or conducting surveillance. 

We also frequently identify routine activities that put people or property at risk (jogging alone at night, parking on the street, or allowing a single employee unsupervised access to financial accounts are common routines that make for attractive targets). 

Finally, we frequently identify instances of ineffective protection or security, such as windows that are covered by landscaping, poor exterior lighting, ineffective alarm and video surveillance systems, business processes with no checks and balances, or lax employee vetting processes (both in the home and at work).

We address these initial findings with a series of recommendations for mitigating risk factors. Some clients choose to implement our recommendations themselves while other clients ask us to implement the recommendations. We are not above trimming a few hedges to eliminate hiding places for would-be burglars. We've even cleaned out garages so that our clients will stop parking on the street!

Following the initial risk assessment, we continue to proactively monitor risk factors for our clients. On at least a monthly basis, we meet with clients to ask about changes in routine activities. Our ongoing routine activity risk assessment helps clients think about significant changes in their lives that may introduce new risks, such as new cars, new employees, new friends, new homes, new business deals, new after-school activities, changes in the behavior of family members, friends or employees, upcoming vacations, new house staff, and myriad other changes that should be investigated. In addition to this monthly (or more frequent) assessment, Starr Advisory Services may also conduct random surveillance operations, background investigations or other types of investigations to ensure we are covering all the bases. All of our activities are, of course, approved by our clients in advance.

Safety And Security

Prosperous families face many unique challenges when it comes to safety and security. We seek to provide our clients with peace of mind by taking a proactive approach to investigations so that our clients may enjoy their success without the anxiety that often accompanies prosperity. Contrary to frequent media reports, crime is near an all-time low. 


The world is not as dangerous as some would have us believe. Prove this to yourself by reviewing primary data about crime from sources such as the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) or the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).


Nonetheless, crime and deception do happen to good people and the offender is almost always someone the victim knows. Routine Activity Investigation can mitigate many of the risk factors associated with crime and deception for affluent families.

Contact Starr Advisory Services to learn more about our unique Routine Activity Investigation services.

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