Crime Reduction - Helping to Reduce Crime in Your Area

Tackling Burglary

Market Reduction Approach

The Market Reduction Approach (MRA) is an innovative way to drive down burglary and other acquisitive crime by reducing the market for stolen goods.

The objective is to disrupt the market by making it harder, riskier and less rewarding to dispose of stolen property and therefore remove the incentive to commit acquisitive crime in the first place. The MRA is relatively new and uses a problem solving approach that moves away from the traditional interventions used to reduce acquisitive crime.

An MRA project can comprise of various interventions. Some of these may include:


  • Using crime analysts to gather intelligence on the markets for stolen goods in order to target those that operate within them.

  • Running a marketing campaign to change the public's perception that buying stolen goods is a victimless crime while encouraging people to come forward with information.

  • Targeting the handlers and their networks, including through the Proceeds of Crime Act.

  • Targeting second hand good outlets, ideally in partnership with trading standards.

  • Working closely with schools to educate children about the consequences of buying stolen property.

  • Making property less valuable or easier to trace by property marking scheme for example. At a national level, we are looking at how we can encourage manufacturers to produce, and the public to buy  more secure products.

  • Chipping of Goods Initiative was launched in March 2000 to demonstrate how property crime can be reduced in the supply chain using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. Eight demonstrator projects were created with business to show the effectiveness of RFID to reduce crime and to show the additional benefits they bring to business so as to accelerate the wider adoption of the technology. Best practice case studies from the eight projects are available from the initiative's website.

  • Involving local Neighbourhood Watch schemes in this work by using them to gather information and promote the MRA message about buying stolen goods.

  • SARA - In order to make the most of the MRA and assess what interventions are needed to make an impact on acquisitive crimes in your area you need to be able to accurately identify your markets and tailor your interventions accordingly. The SARA approach gives a structured way of doing this. 

  • Displacement - The market for stolen goods is very fluid and can be displaced. Those committing acquisitive crime will have a range of channels available to them for disposing of stolen property, when one is disrupted another replaces it. A comprehensive strategy is needed to minimise such displacement.

  • Drugs - A high percentage of acquisitive crime is committed to fund a drug habit. In order for any MRA to make a long lasting impact it needs to break the vicious circle of criminals getting caught, going to prison and then continuing to commit acquisitive crime on release to fund the same habit. In general, there is a very close relationship between the market in stolen goods and the drugs market. This close link means that any project should have a drug strategy to tackle the market at its root. 

Targeted Policing Initiative

Three Market Reduction projects were funded under the Targeted Policing Initiative (TPI). In line with the general aim of the initiative, these projects explored innovative ways of reducing acquisitive crime.

Project Details:

  • Radium in Kent - undertook various interventions all closely based on the Sutton analysis of the markets. Initially, they set up a voluntary scheme for second-hand outlets where they were asked to record details of transactions. It undertook a marketing campaign to highlight the consequences of buying stolen goods and tackled the issue of recording stolen property. RADIUM led to the Kent and Medway Acts that regulated the second hand goods trade in an attempt to stop thieves using these outlets to dispose of stolen property. The Home Office will consult on whether the regulatory aspects of the Kent Acts have any wider application.

  • Prime in Stockport - focused on identifying the stolen goods markets in the area by gathering detailed intelligence on these local markets. The information was then turned into intelligence packages for tasking operational officers. Other tactics included a marketing campaign and addressing the long-term implications of an MRA by working with drug using offenders.

  • 'We Don't Buy Crime', a joint Herefordshire's Community Safety Partnership and West Mercia Constabulary initiative - launched in December 2002, a public awareness campaign aimed at informing the public of the consequences of buying stolen property. It highlighted the fact that buying stolen goods is not a victimless crime and tackles those who buy stolen goods, wheter knowingly or by turning their back on the truth.. The initiative is about educating the public so they understand the consequences of picking up a bargain which could be stolen. It is a criminal offence which carries a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment.

Market Reduction Research

  • Offender Profile: Market Reduction - This is part of the Business and Retail Crime toolkit containing an in-depth study of factors that influence commercial burglars in their choice of target goods that can be sold on, and other recent work underlines the scope to nip offending careers in the bud by making it more difficult to dispose of stolen goods.

  • Tackling Theft with the Market Reduction - This publication is the first to review comprehensively what is known about stolen goods markets and to offer detailed guidelines, based on general "what works" knowledge, for reducing illegal markets with an aim to reduce theft at the local area level.

  • Hot Products: Understanding, anticipating and reducing demand for stolen goods - This report focuses attention on the so-called ‘hot products’ that are most likely to be taken by thieves. 

  • Handling stolen goods and theft: A market reduction approach - Explores the effects of the market for stolen goods on levels of acquisitive crime. It examines the possibility of reducing demand and supply in criminal markets as a means of crime control. 

Last update: Monday, November 06, 2006