Deconstructing Distraction Burglary: An Ageist Offence?
AGEING,CRIME AND SOCIETY, A. Wahidin and M. Cain, eds., pp. 107-123, Cullompton: Willan Publishing, 2006
10 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2008
This paper is based upon research conducted in preparation for a Home Office funded evaluation of the Leeds Distraction Burglary Project. Although statistically a relatively rare occurrence, distraction burglary has created considerable public concern during recent years because of the predatory way in which older people are specifically targeted as victims and its potentially devastating impact. The premeditated manner by which offenders engage directly with victims in order to deceive them and gain entry to their dwellings distinguishes distraction burglary from more conventional forms of burglary in which offenders typically seek to avoid victim contact by entering dwellings unnoticed. The formalisation of distraction burglary allows for the easier monitoring of reporting levels. However not only does `distraction burglary' frequently overlap with other non-distraction forms of burglary, but it also comprises a range of variations within the broader modus operandi. Because of this, it is argued here that distraction burglary should be understood as a family of offences which incorporates a diverse range of strategies and rationales, each requiring different preventive strategies.
This paper deconstructs distraction burglary in order to illustrate its many complexities and distinguishing features. Part one discusses what is known about the prevalence of distraction burglary, and explores what is currently known about offenders and their tactics of deceit. Part two identifies the victims and outlines their profiles. The third part situates distraction burglary within a broader debate about age, risk and crime prevention, while questioning some of the implicit assumptions made in discourses surrounding old age and victimisation. We conclude by raising questions about the reification of older people as a coherent unit for the delivery of criminal justice policy.
Keywords: Distraction Burglary, Deception, Conmen, Bogus Callers, Crime
JEL Classification: K14, K11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation