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94 Year Old Robbed While Grocery Shopping

94 year old Donald Harshbarger is a World War II Veteran and lives in Leesburg, Florida. Leesburg, is a retirement community northwest of Orlando (not far from the retirement mecca The Villages). There was an individual standing behind Harshbarger in line at a local grocery store (see picture below). The man followed him out to the parking lot and then asked him if he could break a $50 bill. Harshbarger took out his wallet, and the thief grabbed it and ran. The police later recovered the wallet from a trash can with $200 missing. Thank God that Harshbarger was not physically harmed in the robbery. 

Leesburg publix robbery - Google Search

Crimes Of Opportunity

Most crimes today are 'crimes of opportunity.' This contradicts the popular notion that most crimes are planned in advance. Crimes of opportunity are just that, criminals that are prepared 24/7 to take advantage of an opportunity that presents itself. A criminal out doing their own Christmas shopping pulls into an available parking spot and notices a pile of shopping bags in the empty car next to them - opportunity. They drive past a house with an open garage door and no one in sight - opportunity. Driving by a bank at night they notice an individual standing at the ATM by themselves - opportunity. They are in line at the grocery store and notice an elderly man with a large amount of cash in his wallet - opportunity.  

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I want to make it clear that I have never and will never blame the victim of a crime. Mr. Harshbarger was a victim, and has the right to carry as much cash as he wants in his billfold. But, from a practical standpoint, we each have the choice to present fewer opportunities to would-be predators. We are seeing more and more crimes at locations that have historically been considered safe. For example, while researching this article I found a growing number of robberies that are now taking place at major grocery store chains. Who expects to be a victim of a crime while grocery shopping? Who expects the guy behind you in the checkout line to rob you? Our local Target Pharmacy was robbed three weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon! Yep, someone walked all the way into the center of the store to the pharmacy window and committed a robbery in the middle of the day. 

From Wikipedia -

Crime Opportunity theory is a theory that suggests that offenders make rational choices and thus choose targets that offer a high reward with little effort and risk. The occurrence of a crime depends on two things: the presence of at least one motivated offender who is ready or willing to engage in a crime, and the conditions of the environment in which that offender is situated, to wit, opportunities for crime. All crimes require opportunity but not every opportunity is followed by crime. Similarly a motivated offender is necessary for the commission of a crime but not sufficient. A large part of this theory focuses on how variations in life-style or routine activities affect the opportunities for crime (Hindelang, Gottfredson, and Garofalo 1978; Cohen and Felson 1979; Cohen, Felson, and Land 1980).

While I don't know, I would guess that the thief in this case simply saw an opportunity and took it. I make it a point to always consider how my actions may present an 'opportunity' to a criminal. If you think in these terms you will substantially lower the odds of becoming a random victim yourself. 

Helping you make the most of God's money! 

  James L. Paris 
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