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Breaking the Crime Triangle


In 2010, a French armored car driver named Toni Musulin said he was mad at his boss. So he drove off with $14 million (11 million euros). Musulin was sentenced to 3 years in jail.

Way to stick it to the man, Toni.

Toni's case provides an illustration of the "crime triangle." The crime triangle theory states that in order for a crime to occur three things must be present: desire, opportunity, and ability. Take away any one of these elements from a situation, and you've broken the triangle.

Toni always had the ability to drive off with an armored car full of cash. That, after all, was his profession. He had the opportunity, because at the time of the crime, his two co-workers were out of the vehicle delivering cash.

The catalyst to crime was Toni's desire, kindled by his anger at his boss. That anger put the match to the fuse of his ability, detonating the opportunity.

You can prevent business related crime by kicking at least one side out the crime triangle.

Where are the opportunities for crime in your workplace? Do any employees have easy access to cash, personal information or business intelligence? If so, can you take reasonable steps to eliminate the opportunity?

What about ability? Which individuals have the knowledge or skills necessary to commit a crime against your company? Without being suspicious, can you help these employees by keeping them out of situations where they could easily commit that crime?

Finally, can you take steps to dampen the desire to commit crime? Are there employees you know of in a distressed financial situation, or that have expressed anger against policies or individuals within the company? These are the types of things that can energize criminal intent, so taking proactive steps to resolve these situations may help everyone involved.

Workplace violence is the most frightening of business related crimes, and ignoring the warning signs may result in much more than just monetary loss.

One of my colleagues has written an excellent article called Workplace Violence: Violence Can Happen Here. As you assess the strength of the crime triangle in your workplace, I suggest you take a look. It's well worth the read.

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