Can a Person's Perceived Status Affect Likelihood of Being a Victim of Theft?

Criminologist Patrick Kinkade recently conducted a study to determine how one's perceived status can make them more or less vulnerable to being a victim of a crime.  In the study, conducted at car washes in Texas, Kinkade left loose change in his car after planting racy magazines and empty beer cans, and in doing so, the money was twice as likely to be stolen.



"This research emphasizes what everyone in the criminal justice system already knows, about how perception, whether real or imagined, is going to affect outcomes," says Eugene Hyman, retired Superior Court Judge of Santa Clara, California.  He adds that people who don't have much become victims "disproportionately."  

Judge Hyman says that how someone is treated in the criminal justice system depends upon their status.  When a victim is of lower status, the perpetrator receives an offense a lot less severe than if the victim is perceived of high status, in which case the person will receive a consequence more severe, says Hyman.

This study is a "reminder that victims should be victims regardless of who they are," Hyman notes.

Honorable Judge Eugene Hyman has received numerous awards and recognition for his work with families and children and has appeared on numerous television news shows. For more information, visit He is also a featured commentator on The Family Law Channel and The Legal Broadcast Network.

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