PO Box 239, Pratt, KS 67124

The Crime Triangle

In 2014 I was interviewed by a radio station after the host had read my book. She seemed particularly interested in the part where I talked of the 3 elements of crime;

 … it only takes three elements for any violent crime:

1)   An attacker motivated by a cause

2)   A victim who represents that cause

3)   A lack of protection

 The first two elements exist in just about any major gathering of people. The third may be more common in faith-based organizations than any other group.[i]

Those 3 elements are often reduced to 3 simple words, desire, ability and opportunity. As pointed out by many in law enforcement, eliminate any part of the equation and the crime will not occur.

We have more control over opportunity than the other two. By removing the opportunity, those with a criminal desire and the ability to act on that desire will find it hard to commit the crime.

Yet many churches continue to be soft targets.


Think About it:

The tide is turning on the soft target label of churches. More are coming on board with intentional security. Know the criminal triangle of desire / ability / opportunity and develop your plans around it.

Desire can be increased or reduced by our actions. Just about anyone attending church with a drug addiction who is short on cash comes with a desire for cash. To pass a shallow collection plate across them while the lights are dim would be one way of increasing that desire. A deep bucket in full light with an usher standing at the end of the seat row to pass it to the next row is a gentle deterrent. There are many examples of how we can operate intentionally to not increase the desire of a criminal.

Ability can be curtailed by simple security conscious procedures. Locks on a door prevent the ability to enter a particular area a criminal may be interested in – perhaps the money counting area or children’s church.

In a free society however, we have limited control over the desire and ability of others. Opportunity is the easiest for us to manage. Often the mere presence of security turns those with criminal intent away. Identify the real risks you face due to the desires and abilities of the bad actors, then identify how you can remove their opportunities to act on their desire.

[i] Page 18 – “Evil Invades Sanctuary”

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