Victim of Negligent Security?
By: Jason Neufeld, Esq.
Negligent security is a form of premises liability, in which
an owner or operator of property can be held liable for injuries that occur on their property. Most negligent security cases
boil down to two major issues that involve foreseeability and preventability:
1) Was the event foreseeable?
While not all crimes can be reasonably anticipated, many
can and are. The history of a particular area can be an incredibly accurate predictor of future criminal activity in that
same area. A corollary to this concept is that criminal/security-related events that occur in one type of property (based
on a variety of circumstances) may be more likely to occur at similar types of properties – in different locations.
If a pattern of break-ins occurs in one location, I would argue that it would be negligent and careless for the owner/developer not
to take preventative action to reduce the chances of similar activity occurring in their other locations.
Our firm digs deeper and will pull police-incident reports,
crime grids, police calls for service reports, subpoena internal property owner reports, security/maintenance company reports,
investigate ordinance violations, and more.
(2) Was the event preventable?
Crime-prevention experts are likely to rely on the Routine
Activity Theory and Rational Choice Theory.
- Routine Activity Theory states that crime occurs at a place
when there is an intersection of: (a) a likely target; and (b) the absence of any deterrent, such as a guard or detection
device; and of course, (c) a potential offender.
- Rational Choice Theory simply states that criminals commit
their bad acts when the perceived benefits outweigh the perceived risks. So someone with an interest in preventing
criminal activity should look to: (i) increase the perceived difficulty of carrying out a crime; (ii) reduce the perceived
reward of that crime; and (iii) increase the perceived risks involved.
Crime prevention involves hiring an expert with an eye toward
strategically placing or protecting ingress/egress points, landscaping, lighting, fencing, that maximizes visibility and communicates
control of an area of concern. The idea is to, when possible, manipulate the environment to reduce or increase such factors
It is a commercial-property owner’s responsibility
to consider these variables when risk factors present themselves.
Mr. Neufeld is an associate with Neufeld, Kleinberg &
Pinkiert, PA (http://www.neufeldlawfirm.com/index.php) If you would like to speak to an attorney, please call 1-800-379-TEAM (8326) and ask for Jason
Neufeld, or email him directly at email@example.com.