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Over the last ten years DACRC have pioneered visualisation of the way perpetrators engage in crime, in order to help designers and the public to do their best to anticipate and design against crime. The phrase ’perpetrator technique’ is primarily used by law enforcement officers and those from the crime prevention community to describe the characteristic ways criminals commit crime. It suggests that there are patterns and styles to how crimes are commonly committed. The phrase modus operandi (often abbreviated MO) meaning ‘mode of operation’ is used in common English to mean something similar i.e. the habits of manner of working, the method of operating or functioning of criminals as well as individuals.

We list perpetrator techniques for two reasons:

1. so individuals can familiarise themselves with them and figure out how best to behave safely in public places, where some scam crimes linked to bag and bike theft, are common;

2. so designers can understand them to figure out how to design against them.

Below we visualise common bag theft and bike theft perpetrator techniques as separate case studies.

Bike Theft Perpetrator Techniques

Bag Theft Perpetrator Techniques

The Design Against Crime Research Centre is unique in that it has argued publically that it believes visual material is central in the fight to design against crime, and that it should be included in more designing out crime briefing documents. Our Research Centre has taken time to visualise perpetrator techniques, not just because for many people seeing things helps them understand, but also because the visual dimension of the ways scams occur often identifies, for the designer, intervention sites, where design can operate to block crime and make an difference.