Examining The Difficulties Of Policing Burglary Criminology Essay

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Burglary is the most frequent major crime committed in Garsfontein SAPS. It is defined as the unlawful entry of any structure, vehicle or vessel used for regular residence, industry or business, with or without force, with the intent to commit a felony or larceny (Genaro Vito, Ronald M. Holmes 1994: 312).Force may be used if the burglar encounters someone while committing the crime. This makes the prevention and the detention of burglary to rest largely on the information provided by the victim.

According to Mawby R I (2001) burglary is defined in the international crime victim survey as an incident where someone enters property without permission in order to still something. The fact that burglary is one of the crimes that is difficult to police because police cannot be posted to each house and business, this doesn't absolve the police from preventing it by means of patrols and the establishment of community policing,neighbourhood watch, block watch and community patrollers.

Police effectiveness and efficiency in dealing with the reported burglary and educating the society on how to minimize the changes of burglary is critical. The successful detection and punishment of burglary perpetrators could serve as a deterrent to potential house breakers.



Burglary has and is still one of the most underreported crimes. This could be proven by Brown miller (1991: 175) assertion that, one in ten and in some areas one in twenty burglary incident are reported. According to Garsfontein CIAC (2008), the high rate of under reporting of burglary in Garsfontein SAPS makes the available figures not to reveal the extent and nature of the problem. The under reporting has mostly been attributed to the fear of the perpetrator, and the manners in which the criminal justice deals with such crime.

Unsympathetic police attitude and the interrogative nature of their investigation has been and is still deterring victims from reporting burglary (Tomaselli and Porter 1998: 22).The high number of the unfounded and undetected burglary cases is also seen in Garsfontein as it already amounting to 75 %.

The ripple effect of underreporting is that it makes the public fear of burglary to be contrast with the actual burglary statistics as reflected in the police crime statistics. This necessitates that, beyond the depiction of safety and fear of burglary should also be understood within the context of under reporting.


Burglary is one of the crime that is easy to can allege and difficult to prove. This makes it easy for the community and business people to make false allegation of burglary whilst others may be making a true claim to burglary but due to its difficulty in proving it, their claims end up being unfounded (Garsfontein CIAC 2009).

These in the near future will create a negative attitude on police officers that deal with such kind of cases. They tend to treat any burglary case with suspicion and this makes them to intensify the interrogation of the burglary victims.

Although this might have the case ten years ago, it might now be the case with burglary incident as the mere production could be enough to make the victim to subdue to the offenders' demands without any resistance.

The police are obliged to make sure that even if there is suspicion, the interrogation of the victim is conducted in a way that will dehumanize the victim or make them to lose trust on the police.

Because the community have faith in the criminal justice system, there is a need for the criminal justice system to change the attitude if the police officials that are dealing with burglary cases (Tomaselli and Porter 1998:18).


Photography of the burglary scene is important for the successful detection of most burglary cases. In Garsfontein as in case in many other places, there is a lack of readily availability of photographers, thus making the victim to wait for hours before the scene is photographed.

The lack of forensic experts is not only limited to burglary cases, but to all other cases where the blood sample or anything left behind by offenders has to be drawn from possible perpetrators.


Effective policing is rooted in the availability of the information that is produced by the police from various sources including burglary victims themselves. The lack of information makes it difficult for the police to solve burglary cases, frustrate them, and in turn makes burglary victims to be reluctant to report cases. There is a need to identify and address factors that impede the effective and efficient policing of burglary.


The objectives of this study should be specific and clear achievable (Mark 1996:364).The study is set to investigate the difficulty of policing burglary in Garsfontein in an attempt to establish the effective ways and means of dealing with this crime. The outcome of this study is to provide a broader understanding of burglary reported as well as the police's attitudes in dealing with such reported burglary cases. The following objectives will be pursued in an attempt to:

? Understand practical problems in investigating burglary

? Encourage the community to assist in problem solving of burglary

? Develop effective ways of dealing with burglary

? Encouraging victims to report burglary, and

? Establishing community structure/fora to fight crime.


According to J C Welman and S J Kruger (1999:11), a hypothesis is a tentative assumption or preliminary statement about the relationship between two or more things that need to be examined.

In a research a clear statement of the problem and a hypothesis or hypotheses is a point of departure. The hypothesis in this study is formulated to test certain assumptions made by the researcher. The following five hypotheses are developed to direct this research; viz

? The delay in conducting forensic investigation regarding exhibits found at the scene of burglary

? False allegation of burglary makes police officials to regard every burglary a suspicious one

? Lack of information leading to unsuccessful detection of burglary cases

? Lack of community involvement in problem solving leading to the increase in burglary

? Lack of governmental and non- governmental organizations' involvement in this issue is also a contributing factor


Research has various angles and approaches and it is therefore necessary for the researcher to decide on the type of research that he/she intends to follow. (Neumann 1997:18).According to Mouton and Marais (1996:42) it is important to differentiate between the different types of study and to indicate which study or combination of studies will be applicable to the specific research. In this study I will use qualitative research of an exploratory nature. In that I will explore the experience and perceptions of police and victims towards the policing of burglary. Mouton and Marais (1996:43) describe the goal of exploratory studies as to explore something new and relatively unknown.


The reasons why Garsfontein SAPS was chosen are;

Easy access to the information as the researcher is residing in the married quarters in that police station. The researcher is working as a Social Crime Prevention coordinator and more information is readily and easily available. The researcher will mainly focus on residence and business burglary. This type of trio crime is chosen in that there's a vast burglary problem in Garsfontein and the entire South Africa.

Secondly, Garsfontein is a gated community with adequate security but the community members fail to use the resources that they have with great care. They sometimes leave their windows or doors open, sometimes they leave the gates leading to their complexes open and that's where they are mostly targeted. The chosen group is those filthy rich businesspeople who are burgled a lot.

According to Mawby R I (2001:5) the following incidents would therefore constitute burglary;

? Break-in to home through the door or window

? Use other method to enter through locked door or window without causing any damage

? Enter through an open door or window, and

? Enter with permission, where the offender use trickery method to gain entry


According to H Strydom, Fouche C B and Delport CSL 2nd edition (2002:209) sampling is described as taking a portion of a population or universe and considering it to be representatives of that population or universe. According to Du Plooy (2001:100) sampling involves when following a rigorous procedure when selecting the unit of analysis from a larger population. The population in terms of this study is all burglary victims in Garsfontein area.

Sampling ideally means that an investigator randomly selects a representative portion of the population, studies this sample and then tries to extrapolate the results of the entire population that was intended for the study (Riegelman and Hirsch: 1996:219). AS De Vos, H Strydom, CB Fouche and CSL Delport (2002:201) say random sampling is that method of drawing a portion or sample of a population so that each member of the population has an equal chance of being selected. It provides a means for making inferences about the population using observations made on the sample.

Purposive sampling will be used to interview police officials who investigate or who firstly arrive at the scene of burglary. It is again done when the researcher chooses only those respondents who have specific knowledge that best meets the purpose of the study. (Bailey 1994:96).The problem with purposive sampling is that different researchers may proceed in different ways to obtain such a sample and thus it is impossible to evaluate the extent to which such samples are representative of the relevant population (JC Welman and SJ Kruger 1999:63)

On the part of the victims, random sampling will be done to identify the burglary victims who reported burglary cases from 2004-2007.A sample is random if the method for obtaining the sample meets the criterion of randomness by ensuring that each item or element of the population has an equal chance of being choosen.In this study each victim of burglary case in the population theoretically has an equal chance to be selected for the sample. (AS De Vos, H Strydom and CSL Delport (2002:204).


Data collection is an organized collection of related information (Joseph F Healey 1993:491).Data collection is the strategy of obtaining and analyzing information (Nagan 2006:110).In this study the following methods will be used to collect information;

? Structured interview of open ended questions

? Docket analysis

? Documentary analysis, and

? One-to-one interview


According to JC Welman and SJ Kruger (1999:198), the eventual analysis of the information obtained from unstructured interviews is based on the interviewer's records, the interview will be audio recorded.

According to Deborah, Osborne MA and Suzan Wernicke MS (2003:1), crime analysis is a set of systematic, analytical process directed at providing timely and pertinent information relative to crime pattern and trends correlation to assist operational and administrative personnel in planning for the deployment of resources for the prevention and suppression of criminal activities, aiding the investigative process and increasing apprehensions and the clearance of cases.

This will enable the researcher to have the opportunity of viewing these notes and suggestions during the data analysis period. Data analysis involves the breaking up of data into manageable themes and pattern (Mouton 2001:108)


Validity and reliability are very much important in social research. According to AS de Vos, H Strydom, CB Fouche, SCL Delport (2002:166) the validity has two parts, the instrument actually measures the concept in question and the concept is measured accurately.

Reliability refers to the extent to where they obtained scores may be generalized to different measuring occasions, measurement forms and measurement administrators. To ensure reliability attempts should be made to phrase questions in a way that they will convey the same meaning. The developed questions will be tested with various people to minimize ambiguities before they are actually posed to the selected respondents. Validity will be promoted by designing questions after intensive literature study to ensure that all questions have applicability value to burglary victims and burglary investigators.


Due to the nature of the project that the researcher is proposing, and the point that he is staying in the married quarters in Garsfontein, the time required for the execution of a research project, the writing, technical preparation, and editing of the report will require approximately 24 months.



As already mentioned above that the study will only be based on the gated community and filthy rich business people of Garsfontein, the investigation officers, research assistants, and the typists should be involved in this study.

Police investigators are only work shopped in the difficulties of policing

Research assistants are well trained and learned individuals with relevant qualifications.

Typists should be doing the typing work that needs to be done.


Incurring costs should be well budgeted for in the research proposal so that the funding organization should be convinced that the researcher knows what is at stake and that he or she is the right person to be funded for the research.

Breakdown of Costs:

? Hiring staff; 4 x assistants researchers at a cost of R10 000, 00 per month

= R40 000 x 24 months

Total = R960 000, 00

? Hiring staff; 2 x typists at a cost of R3000, 00 per month

= R6000, 00 x 24 months

Total = R144 000, 00

? Police investigators are paid by the state.

Other costs

? Travelling and telephone accounts, duplication and photocopying

? Unforeseen expenditure

All the research will require ' R 1.5 m