3 Crimes With Identical Underlying Thought Patterns
The type of crime is not the key to understanding the offender's personality.
Posted February 1, 2023 | Reviewed by Vanessa Lancaster
- Understanding the patterns of thought underlying most criminal behavior is necessary.
- If one looks beyond the details of different types of crime, they will see that the underlying mental makeup, patterns of thought, are the same.
- Criminals experience excitement at every phase of a crime, from its contemplation until after its execution.
Consider three men who committed very different crimes. Roger* held up a bank. Stanley raped a young woman working after business hours in her office. Drew broke into homes while owners were away or at work. These men were charged with different crimes: bank robbery, rape, and breaking and entering. However, the underlying thought patterns that gave rise to each of these offenses are similar.
Each criminal is intent on making a conquest. The bank robber intends to "knock off" the bank and emerge with a fortune. The rapist seeks a conquest by sexually taking possession of a woman. The burglar's conquest is breaking into vacant homes and helping himself to whatever appeals to him.
Roger, Stanley, and Drew took precautions to avoid getting caught. Each scoped out his presumptive victim (whom he did not consider a victim). Roger became familiar with the bank's operating procedures–its business hours, when customer traffic is light or heavy, where the exits are, and what the surrounding neighborhood is like so he could elude any pursuers. He also scanned the environment to determine the location of surveillance devices. Stanley targeted the young woman and ascertained her schedule so he would know when she would likely be alone in her office. He determined the locations of the building's exits and mapped out an escape plan. Drew cased out neighborhoods to find areas where homes were unoccupied during the workday.
Roger, Stanley, and Drew each regarded themselves as unique in their ability to outwit others. As they made preparations, they grew increasingly confident of success. Each man experienced excitement just by contemplating the crime and formulating his plan of action.
All three men were aware of the "occupational hazards" of crime: getting caught, convicted, and confined. And they know they may be risking being injured or killed. They know right from wrong and understand the illegality of what they plan to do. However, they are able to eliminate these considerations from their thoughts. As their plan takes shape, the more certain they become they will succeed and avoid apprehension. At the time each commits his crime, he has mentally shut off these deterrents so that they no longer are barriers to action.
Although the only violent crime among this group was rape, the other men were prepared to resort to violence if he believed the situation called for it. Roger arrived at the bank armed and threatened to shoot anyone who interfered with him. Stanley approached his victim with the thought that he was not only desirable but actually irresistible. If he encountered resistance, he was prepared to use force, and perhaps a weapon as well. Drew's violence occurred as he gained access to homes by force and without a care as to what he destroyed. If someone were to confront him, Drew was ready to attack.
Men like Roger, Stanley, and Drew get away with many more crimes than they are caught for. Each success boosts their sense of invulnerability, increases their certainty that they can outsmart anyone, and enhances their belief that they can do whatever they want.
Even when criminals like Roger, Stanley, and Drew are caught, they experience excitement while attempting to manipulate law enforcement officers, lawyers, judges, interviewers, and even family members. They deploy a barrage of tactics in which they deny culpability, blame others, remain silent, or feed others what they think is expected.
Offenders like Roger, Stanley, and Drew are likely to handle their adversaries by revealing as little as possible as they try to maintain an amiable relationship on the surface. Other criminals are combative toward anyone who tries to hold them accountable. They are oppositional, accusatory, and critical. Although criminals may differ in their modus operandi, their objective remains the same–to disclose as little as possible about the crime they have committed and, in general, to reveal the minimum about other aspects of their lives.
Criminals differ in their tastes and preferences for committing specific sorts of crimes. The so-called "white collar" offender perceives the gun-toting street criminal as a thug and looks down on him as crude and uneducated. He is above resorting to violence, or so he professes. Street criminals disparage those who shy away from violence and see them as not "real men."
If one looks beyond the details of different types of crime, they will see that the underlying mental makeup (i.e., the patterns of thought) are the same.