Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Criminal freakonomics

Nicholas Kristof has a column today about the Freakonomics of LoJack. Since LoJack cars aren't stickered, thieves face much greater risk of capture for stealing any vehicle. It works out that "every $1 invested in LoJack saves other car owners $10."

Kristof suggests extending the model to home burglary alarms:
What if we encouraged hidden silent alarms to change the economics of burglary?

Granted, most people don't want hidden alarms that entice a burglar to stay until the police show up. But suppose communities adjusted the fees they charge for alarm systems - say, $2,000 a year for an audible alarm, but no charge for a hidden LoJack-style silent alarm.

Then many people would choose the silent alarms, more burglars would get caught, and many of the criminally inclined would choose a new line of work, perhaps becoming chief executives.

That's a great idea. Except the criminals wouldn't become CEOs — they would become Republican members of Congress.


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