Throughout this text I will describe the research methods I could potentially use to further explore my chosen subject of auto theft from semester one. I will explain my reasoning for using each method thoroughly and how I believe my results will be affected by these choices.
Primarily I would review the literature I have already read as well as exploring further relevant academic texts. The data within would develop a greater understanding of research which has previously been carried out and also create a case to work from in future.
After reading my source texts from previous research into this issue, the article by Michael Cherbonneau and Heith Copes entitled ‘Drive It Like You Stole It’, Auto Theft and The Illusion of Normalcy’ demonstrated the potential interviewing has as a primary research technique. Whilst completing the tasks assigned throughout semester two I became aware of how interviews should be conducted in order to produce qualitative results with the potential to solve existing problems.
I believe I could potentially interview auto thieves myself which would make the results more reliable as I would have collected the information first hand. Asking these questions within a safe and monitored environment would be essential. If the questions prepared were carefully considered then the information would be exactly what I feel was required to better my understanding of the issue and how criminal’s decisions affect the outcome of the crime. Derek Cornish and Ronald Clarke’s text, ‘The Reasoning Criminal: Rational Choice Perspectives on Offending’, places emphasis on this theory. Paying my interview subjects has its pros and cons and at this point I would have to guess which would provide me with the most reliable information. The prospect of gaining money from partaking in these interviews may encourage individual’s agreement although I could not be sure of any other aspect such as sincerity. Willingness of these individuals to take part isn’t certain and it may be unsafe to use them as subjects so possible alternatives could include police officers who deal with auto thieves first hand and will be on many occasions the first to discover stolen vehicles. They should also be more reliable generally regarding their answers. I will gain an understanding of how often and where these crimes occur as well as generally how the crime unfolds. Through conducting my own interviews during semester two I have discovered that giving my interviewee the opportunity to elaborate on their answers improves the information gathered and provides me with an increased amount of knowledge relevant to my chosen subject. It would also be sensible to interview a broad range of individuals from as many different locations as possible to increase the validity of my results.
Observing and recording is another technique which would be beneficial when further researching auto theft. I could arrange to view CCTV footage of auto theft crimes taking place watching the offence unfold, how the criminal acts and the process in which they go through whilst stealing a vehicle. Problems could occur due to the poor quality of film and focus which may lead to inaccuracies. Uncertainty of whether I could gain access to the footage due to reasons regarding confidentiality may cause difficulty. Taking notes would leave me with information I could elaborate on later and the experience in general would further enlighten my understanding of the criminal act. With this information I could set up mock thefts to simulate what had happened in reality to help future design and test prototypes. I could arm vehicles with existing products to test their effectiveness. Awareness of the market concerned and what is already available whilst researching for the purpose of design is extremely important. Observing and documenting the surroundings and goings on when on patrol with police would be another opportunity to gather research. Witnessing the damage caused during a break in at such an early point in its untouched state would provide knowledge on what wasn’t effective regarding the vehicles security. Experiencing just how criminals behave in general would be greatly beneficial in distinguishing character profiles without generalising them as one identical group.
Conducting public surveys to enquire what they felt would increase levels of security and if they had ever encountered auto theft would be beneficial. This would ideally be done in an area with a high level of vehicle theft incidents. To pin point these areas within the United Kingdom I would access the most recent records from the Home Office. I could then search worldwide records if I were to tackle vehicle theft on a global scale. Asking a broad section of the public would give me a clearer idea of the issue and increase validity. To increase levels of participation as stated previously for interviewing purposes I would keep surveys short and to the point. Hopefully the results after implementation would be qualitative and therefore back up design development in future. Again I considered using car thieves as subjects during further investigation. In doing so I believe it would result in a better grasp of their mind set and decision making although they may not be reliable.
Using skills developed from previous assignments, surveys could be conducted as visual experiments using scenarios and allowing the participant to explain how they feel about an issue or make sense of what is occurring within images. For example illustrations showing possible theft deterrents could be shown to the individual so they could explain which would make them feel safer and which they’d like to see integrated into the vehicle system. Using this layout would encourage participation and make my gathered research much clearer for future reference.
With the use of research methods explained throughout the course of this text I feel I could successfully explore the issue of auto theft. Observing and recording would allow me to understand how design could improve the current spatial situation. The interviewing and surveying processes would allow me specifically, to gain information without relying on research carried out by others. I believe these techniques would benefit me greatly as the information gathered would be of a higher standard and reliability.
Cherbonneau, M, Copes, H, (2006), ‘DRIVE IT LIKE YOU STOLE IT’Auto Theft and the Illusion of Normalcy,
British Journal Of Criminology Vol 46, No.2, University of Missouri, Advance Access
Cornish, DB, Clarke, RV,(1986) The Reasoning Criminal:Rational Choice Perspectives on Offending,
New York, Springer-Verlag, New York Inc,
http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/crimeew0809.html (accessed 26.11.09)