Critical analysis of property crimes in Nigeria

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1.1 Background Of The Study
Criminality is part and parcel of human nature and society. That is why no society can claim to be completely free of crimes. But the types of criminal behaviour tend to follow the pattern of social and economic development of a given society. It is therefore not unexpected that a society at a low level of development tends to experience an upsurge in the rate of violent crimes such as armed robber, politically motivated killings, the use of illegal weapons, ethnic and religious clashes and the like .
Crime causes loss of live and property as well as overwhelming fear of insecurity. These have serious consequences for democracy, economic development, social capital and associational life generally.
Individual and societal aspirations for democracy, development, human rights, high standard of living are undermined by high level of crime.
Increase in violent crime and delinquency, is a common feature of countries in transition. This has been attributed to the uncontrollable nature of change in its formative stage, demobilization or dismantling of repressive security apparatuses used by previous authoritarian regimes in controlling crime and the unequal socio-economic opportunities brought about by economic liberalization programs. What differentiate societies in transition from one another with regard to increase in common crimes and disorders are the policies and strategies that have been adopted by the governments to address them. Countries that have invested more in social crime prevention and in finding peaceful solutions to their political problems through transparent processes appear to have managed rise in criminal deviance and discontent better than others.
The Nigerian experience cannot be different. The first four years of transitional democracy in the country witnessed perceived and real increase in violent crime and disorder, so much so that safety and security issues ranked very high among citizens priority concerns. Increasing incidence of armed robbery led to a paralyzing fear which in turn affected economic and social life in the country. As a result of the growing rates and severity of criminality successive governments in the country since the early 1980s introduced diverse crime control measures, but without much success.
Following the introduction of Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP) from 1984, the country started experiencing a serious contraction in the labour market. This resulted in a large proportion of youths, searching for jobs under the prevailing harsh economic conditions. The presence of this enormous pool of idle youths, who are both skilled and unskilled and sometimes homeless, created a fertile ground for deviant activities. This culminated in an increase in crime of different types, including drug-trafficking and drug abuse.
Based on the foregoing, the researcher felt the need to identify,describe and anlayse the trends in criminal activities related to Critical analysis of property crimes in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement Of The Problem
Most Nigerians agree that property crime rates and insecurity in the country are very high and that over the last years, the country has experienced a steep rise in crime. Organized and non-organized crime and attendant vices such as smuggling of contrabands, especially firearms, counterfeiting, money-laundering, armed robberies, kidnapping, car hijacking, and human trafficking have become sources of worry for the Nigerian government. Likewise, incidents of high profile crime and politically motivated killings and kidnapping have lately compounded the complexity of the crime situation in the country.
Property crime generally includes taking money or property when there is no force or threat of force against the victims. This includes burglary, motor vehicle theft, and property or larceny theft. Arson is typically categorized as a property crime because of the destruction of property; however, arson victims may be subjected to force.
1.3 Research Question
The following research questions guided the study:
1. What are the factors that motivate people to commit crime in Nigeria?
2. Which forms of property crime are the most rampant in Nigeria?
3. Is crime rate in Nigeria actually increasing or decreasing?

1.4 Objective Of The Study
The general objective of the study is to find out, describe and analyse the trends in property crimes in Nigeria. Specifically, the study seeks to:
i. Ascertain the most prevalent form of crime in Nigeria
ii. Ascertain if there are no differences in crime against persons and that against property.
iii. Establish the trend over ten years period (2000 – 2009)
iv. Make recommendations on possible ways of curbing criminal activities in the state.
1.5 Scope Of The Study
This is an empirical study on trends in criminal activities in Nigeria. The variables understudies are; the causes/motivations for property crime, most prevalent forms of crime in Nigeria.
1.6 Significance Of The Study
This study will be useful to law enforcement agencies It will bring to the fore the causes, most prevalent form of crime, problems in fighting property crime as well as possible solutions. This will help the law enforcement agencies in laying strong foundations in combating crime in the country.
This study will provide information on the depth of criminal activities and enable the government to know the need to ensure security to its citizens. It will create awareness on those barriers militating against proper security of lives and properties in major cities. The government will see the need to properly equip the security agencies and the need to provide incentives for the personnel for instance through seminars/workshops, regular in-service training, regular promotions and payment of salaries.
This will add to the body of knowledge on causes as well as trends in criminal activities in urban areas and will serve as a guide to other researchers who may have interest in crime study.
1.7 Research Methodology
In this study, extensive research, analytical study, discussions and wide range of intellectual material will be employed in order that an accurate and conclusive paper will be presented at the end of this work.
In view of these both primary and secondary sources of law which includes the constitution, Laws of the Federation, Decrees, Articles, Lecture notes and other relevant materials like Judicial precedents by reviewing cases from law reports in relation to statutory provisions.

1.8 Limitation Of The Study
During the course of this research work, some constraints were encountered. Most prevailing among the constraints is the limited time for the conclusion of the study; other factors considered as challenging in the cause of this work include the following;
1. Financial implication of the research work.

1.9 Definition Of Terms
Crimes are frequently classified as
1. Offences against persons: These crimes are committed against individuals or groups, and may result in physical or psychological harm to the victim(s). These include, for example, murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, suicide, grievous harm wounding, assault, child stealing, slave dealing; rape and indecent assault, unnatural offences.
2. Offences against property or property crimes: These crimes are committed with the intent to permanently deprive or destroy or damage the property of another, either as individuals or groups.
These include stealing; robbery and extortion, burglary, housebreaking, false pretences/cheating, store breaking, forgery, receiving stolen property, unlawful possession, arson and other offences.
3. Offences against currency and lawful authority: include such crimes as forgery of currency notes, coining offences, breach of public peace, gambling, perjury, bribery and corruption, escaping from lawful custody and other offences.
4. Offences against Local Acts: Include offences against Traffic Acts, offences against Township Acts, offences against Liquor Acts, offences against Dog Acts, offences against Firearms Acts, Narcotics and other offences.
5. Conventional Crimes: Under this, we have violent crimes and property crimes. Violent crimes include murder, armed robbery, rape, manslaughter, ritual killings, kidnapping and assault.
Property crimes include burglary, larceny, shoplifting, motorcycle and bicycle theft, motor vehicle theft, theft of car accessories, embezzlement, fraud, arson and purse snatching.
6. White-Collar Crime: It is any illegal act, punishable by criminal law that is committed in the course of a legitimate occupation or pursuit by a corporation or by any otherwise respectable person.
7. Organized crimes: Are crimes that involve many people who participate in different stages of the criminal acts for it to be successful. These crimes include human trafficking, drug trafficking, cyber crime, money laundering and online banking, advanced feed fraud (419), corruption, assassination etc.
8. Crimes without Victims: Include prostitution, drug abuse, and gambling.

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