It is methodological individualism which makes up the group, creating problems for the Rational Theories which tout individualism as the driving force in motivation. Some say that the actions of individuals results in an unintended consequence when done in a group (Scott, p. 30).
If you look long enough for the secret of society you will find it in plain sight: the secret of society is that it was made by men, and there is nothing in society but what men put there'" (Homans, p. 385).
Captain David Poston, head of the CMPD Property Crimes Unit, who spoke to the problem of this rash of burglaries within the metropolitan area in November, 2007, said that "while citywide, burglaries were down nearly 5% last year compared to 2006, we have seen an increase in the past couple of weeks" (Charlotte, p. 1).
He admits that over the month preceding, detectives saw a pattern to the kinds of burglaries being perpetrated and they were pursuing leads. Officers made an arrest in one case that fit the pattern of recent burglaries and were interviewing the suspect to see if the burglaries were related. In one day, in the North of Mecklenburg County, four homes were broken into. All of them had similar methodology to other burglaries occurring earlier that month in the South. But the same kind of break-ins has been reported in all the other parts of the city, as well.
Overall, crime in Charlotte-Mecklenberg is down in every aspect. It is not that the offenders are not finding police protection in the city, but that the burglaries are committed in every part of the city and there are not enough police available at every time of the day and night to protect every home from small groups of teen-agers who wish to approach an unguarded residence, ascertain whether it is occupied at the moment and, if it is not occupied, kick the back door in and take whatever they want. It appears to be a common crime which is opportunistic and may be perpetrated by small groups of teens who happen to be passing by.
Security cameras on city streets have been tried in various cities, but have not deterred crime, though they help in discovering who has committed the crime. A larger and more active police force, which Charlotte-Mecklenberg is currently funding, will help, but will not solve the problem of ethics and morals which seem to be in crisis at this time. Community action and Neighborhood-Watch programs may be of the most help in deterring this sort of crime, as Neighborhood-Watch neighbors watch homes which are unoccupied.
Obviously, there is a social problem present which cannot be addressed through Rational Theories, but must be addressed in terms of a social behavior which has become popular and is considered acceptable among teens. Perhaps a community action would address this problem best, with a campaign showing not only the consequences for being apprehended, but the moral, ethical and legal ramifications of committing it. This popular crime seems to be acceptable, or the high incidence of its being committed would not exist. That it is being committed by groups shows that it is something that is not done on an individual basis (as discussed above). The crime is committed opportunistically, as unguarded houses are being burglarized. Therefore, it seems that the city must make it apparent to the youth of the city that to be safe and private and to be able to maintain one's belongings security in one's home is the right of every citizen. If a campaign is begun which would ask the youth if their belongings and homes were violated, would they feel as good living in Charlotte-Mecklenberg as they do now. In order to have a safe and secure environment, young people must understand the right of a citizen to maintain one's property safely and securely in one's home.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Dept. (2008). Recent spike in home break-ins: suspects & Methods. Crime in Charlotte, NC. Retrieved January 26, 2008 at http://www.crimeincharlotte.com/.
Homans, G. (1961). Social Behaviour: Its Elementary Forms. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.