Dealing with the business of crime –  there has to be a better way

The impact of crime on business optimism (see IT-online – Friday 13, 2007) once again raises the question of whether or not the effect and efficiency of strategic crime prevention initiatives can be improved through the use of business planning and management tools.

Attempted previously by the appointment of an extremely successful and highly respected businessman to head up the structuring and management of SAPS operations, and undertaken by various committees and advisory bodies formed between the government and the formal business sector, it’s not clear whether or not sufficient effort has been made to combat crime using methods to replace those that are clearly failing.
Given that most robbery, burglary and theft-related crimes are essentially a function of the procurement process within the well-know "value chain" – conceived and refined by Michael Porter of Harvard Business School fame – business planning strategies would appear to offer at least a glimmer of hope for South Africa’s embattled law enforcement agencies.
Crime as a business in South Africa is booming. Given the apparent inability of the police and country’s criminal justice system to combat the problem, the extent of the boom means there are probably several organised crime syndicates in the country that would dwarf most of the country’s major listed companies when it comes to comparing revenues and profitability.
Ignoring for the moment the horrific statistics associated with violent crime, such as rape, assault and murder, there is no doubt that the theft of property qualifies in every respect as a fully-fledged industry.
Segmentation of this "industry" will show that thieves are significant players in the durable goods and capital equipment markets and are in the enviable position of being able to grow their domestic and export sales by factors far beyond the wildest dreams of all the leading suppliers combined.
The market for "previously-used" goods is virtually unlimited and must surely conform in many respects to the principles of supply and demand that dictate how all successful business enterprises are organised and managed.
Based on this very simplistic theory, there just has to be a better way of combatting crime than the methods currently being used.
– David Bryant