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Section V


1345 - 1430


To demonstrate the impact of a burglary on a victim 3 minutes VCR & Monitor

Video - Crime Victims by

CDC Communications available from Chief of Chaplains Office of your branch of the service

Show first segment of video--Statement by victim of an auto theft.
To reflect on issues con-fronting the victim of a burglary. 7 minutes Flip chart , easel, & felt tip markers Have participants bring up factors that could impact a victim of burglary e.g. low on priority of police vs. other crimes, financial hassle, etc.
To review items brought up in previous segment and add others 5 minutes Overhead projector & screen

Transparency made from

p. T47

Show overhead and add items not covered.
To define & distinguish between burglary, robbery, assault, larceny, theft. 5 minutes Overhead projector & screen

Training manual p. 191

Transparency made from

p. T46

Show transparency "Definitions" & review distinctions outlined in manual.
To demonstrate impact of aggravated robbery 4 minutes VCR & Monitor

Video - Crime Victims by

CDC Communications available from Chief of Chaplains Office of your branch of the service

Show second segment of video--Statement of victim of aggravated robbery
To reflect on issues con-fronting the victim of a burglary 6 minutes Flip chart, easel, & felt tip markers Have participants list the various traumatic ways by which victims suffer.

List on flip chart.

To review consequences on victim of aggravated robbery 5 minutes Overhead projector & screen

Training manual pp. 190, 191

Transparency made from

p. T48

Show transparencies and discuss impact of aggravated robbery on victims. Discuss items in relation to video segment.
To consider appropriate clergy/chaplain response to the needs of victims of robbery, assault & burglary. 10 minutes Overhead projector & screen

Training manual p. 195, 196, 197

Transparency made from T49

Show transparency

Discuss how clergy could be helpful with items on

p. 195

Also review other pages indicated.

TOTAL 45 minutes


Although the primary emphasis of this Clergy In-Service Training Initiative is being placed upon ministry to victims of family violence, it is important to note that congregations can also be of very vital service to victims of robbery, assault and burglary.

This section will present:

In April 1987, Steven R. Schlesinger, Director of the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, made the following statement in a Special Report on Robbery Victims:

"Robbery ranks among the most serious and feared criminal offenses because it involves both threatened or actual violence and loss of property to the victim. It also occurs much more frequently than either rape or homicide. Although many robberies do not result in physical harm to the victim or extensive loss, fully 1 in 3 involve actual injury, ranging from bruises and black eyes to life-threatening gunshot or knife wounds, and 1 in 8 involve thefts of $250 or more."

In January 1985, this same person, in a bulletin on Household Burglaries, made the following statement:

"Household burglary ranks among the more serious felony crimes, not only because it involves the illegal entry of one's home, but also because a substantial proportion of the violent crimes that occur in the home take place during a burglary incident. Thus, burglary is potentially a far more serious crime than its classification as a property offense indicates; for many victims, including those that avoid the trauma of personal confrontation, the invasion of their home on one or more occasions constitutes a violation that produces permanent emotional scars."

Definitions (1)

ROBBERY -- The unlawful taking or attempted taking of property that is in the immediate possession of another, by force or threat of force.

ASSAULT -- Unlawful intentional inflicting, or attempted inflicting, of injury upon the person of another. Aggravated assault is the unlawful intentional inflicting of serious bodily injury or unlawful threat or attempt to inflict bodily injury or death by means of a deadly or dangerous weapon with or without actual infliction of injury. Simple assault is the unlawful intentional inflicting of less than serious bodily injury without a deadly or dangerous weapon or an attempt or threat to inflict bodily injury without a deadly or dangerous weapon.

BURGLARY -- Unlawful entry of any fixed structure, vehicle, or vessel used for regular residence, industry, or business, with or without force, with the intent to commit a larceny.

LARCENY-THEFT -- Unlawful taking or attempted taking of property other than a motor vehicle (motor vehicle theft is a separate category) from the possession of another, by stealth, without force and without deceit, with intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.

Impact on Victims (2)

There are six major ways in which victims suffer from crime. They are:

1. Loss of property and money

2. Injury

3. Feelings and behavior that occur because of the shock, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder

4. Ripple effects of the crime on the family and friends of the victim (concern about victim's welfare and their own).

5. The variety of inconveniences caused by the state's action of trying to identify, convict and hold an offender accountable.

6. Difficulties with the lack of access to specialized services, like victim support programs and problems with hospitals, insurance companies and welfare agencies.

Preventive Measures

Reducing the Risk of a Burglary

1. Join or start a Neighborhood Watch. Your local police department has a crime prevention office or officer who will give you assistance.

2. Lock doors and windows.

3. Light the outside of the house; trim shrubs.

4. Install good dead-bolt locks, window gates and an alarm system.

5. Ask a neighbor to keep an eye on things.

6. Make the house appear occupied. Use timers, and when on vacation, stop deliveries and arrange to have circulars collected, the lawn mowed and garbage put out.

7. Etch identifying numbers on valuables, and move them out of the bedroom, the first place a burglar looks.

8. Never open your door to a stranger; use a peephole, not a door chain.

Reducing the Risk of Assault or Robbery

1. Avoid, as much as possible, being alone on foot at night or in isolated places, even during the day.

2. If out at night, stay in well lighted public places.

3. Carry a non-lethal protection device (e.g., whistle).

4. Lock car doors. Don't hesitate to use the horn, loudly, when danger is sensed.

5. Follow your instincts. If a situation "doesn't feel right," get out, get help, get among people.

6. Remember, many larger stores have security guards. Enter one quickly if danger is sensed. See nearest clerk.

7. Keep doors locked when home alone. Don't open door to strangers. Use peepholes, not chain.

8. Practice being conscious of who is in proximity and of a place to quickly go in event of emergency.

Information on One Biblical Perspective

Any thorough study of either the Hebrew or New Testament scriptures on the issue of criminal justice and the victim must consider the issue of restorative justice.

This form of justice is particularly pertinent to the subject of this section: burglary, assault and robbery, since its value to the victim can be so clearly observed.

The book, Crime and Its Victims, by Daniel W. Van Ness (3) presents an interesting study of the Biblical approach to dealing with these crimes. Reference to this work is only as one recent publication which may be of interest to clergy on this subject. It does not represent an endorsement of its positions or conclusions by either The Spiritual Dimension in Victim Services or the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime.

Vulnerability of the Elderly (4)

Three primary injuries which victims may suffer during the course of a burglary, assault or robbery are: (1) physical injury, (2) financial injury, and (3) psychological injury.

1. Physical Injury

Increased physical frailty and decreased physical ability are both part of the aging pattern. These, of course, add to an older person's vulnerability to physical injury.

Older people often have a fear of falling because of their self-awareness of the fragility of their bones. If an older woman is injured during a purse snatch, it may result in permanent disability, even though the injury would have been for a younger person relatively minor -- a broken hip, arm or wrist.

Ann Carter,* age seventy-three, was knocked down in a purse snatch. Her hip was broken in the fall. She was in a hospital for a month and then sent to a nursing home. She never recovered sufficiently to return home.

When Gerald Anderson's house was burglarized while he was sleeping, the burglar not only took the television but threw Gerald's glasses on the floor and broke them. Gerald, age sixty-nine, was left unable to read his daily paper or watch television. He became depressed and tried to take his own life.

2. Financial Injury

Financial vulnerability is another by-product of aging. Older people are often condemned to live on fixed incomes, which do not reflect rising costs of living. When inflation is taken into account, some estimate that as many as 36 percent of the elderly do not have enough income to survive by themselves.

To these, the financial impact of burglary, assault or robbery can be devastating. The larceny of $50 may mean that an individual goes without food, or medication, or even forfeits his/her apartment because of lack of rent.

When Eunice Ladd's purse was snatched, she lost $100. Her heat and lights were cut off in the following month, because she had not been able to pay her utility bills. She remained without heat and lived in candlelight for three additional months because of the extra charges she would have to pay to reconnect the utilities.

Burglaries and vandalism cause untold damage and require repair and replacement. One would argue that such impact can be ameliorated by private insurance; in fact, even if people could afford it, such coverage is rarely adequate. Not only do most insurance policies have heavy deductibles which require the insured to pay the first $100 - $500 worth of damage, but the actual reimbursement rate is likely to be far less than the replacement value of the damage or loss.

Mary and John Travis' home and furniture was so destroyed by the vandalism that accompanied their burglary that they could not afford to clean or repair it. They were forced to move from the house in which they had lived for thirty-five years. They ended up living a lonely life in an apartment far from their friends and their neighbors.

*All names of victims mentioned in this section have been changed to preserve confidentiality.

3. Psychological Injury

Some gerontologists have suggested that the single most critical age-related difference in physiology is a diminishing ability to respond to stress (physical and emotional) and to return to the pre-stress level.

Crime is an extraordinary trauma. Most victims suffer some discomfort and stress as a result of even the smallest kind of crime. Some have suggested that 20 percent of all victims seem to exhibit severe stress reactions. And 5 percent of all victims are likely to go into emotional crisis. Elderly victims are among those types of victims who are viewed as high crisis risks following crime.

The elderly victim may have already been trying to deal with a growing sense of dependence and helplessness. Mildred Stone was so upset after being robbed that she began to calm herself through the use of alcohol. She became afraid of leaving her home. She found she couldn't concentrate on day-to-day events in her life and began to stay in bed for most of the day. She didn't go out, didn't see friends, didn't talk to

anyone. One day a friend came to see her and found her so ill from malnutrition and alcohol abuse that she had to be hospitalized at once.

What Victims of, or Witnesses to,

These Crimes Should Do (5)

1. Get a good description of the offender.

2. Call the police emergency number immediately to make a crime report. The sooner you report the crime, the more likely it is that the police will be able to collect important evidence and apprehend the offender.

3. If the crime occurred in your home or neighborhood, it is a good idea to notify your neighbors and/or the landlord so that they may take extra precautions.

4. Make use of the services that are offered to assist crime victims and their families and witnesses to crime. Crime victims often suffer psychological stress, financial losses, and other problems related to being victimized. Victims and witnesses to crime need information about the legal process and assistance dealing with police and court procedures. There are many agencies that offer help. Contact the police department, Victim-Witness Programs in the District Attorney's Office or the City Attorney's Office (see General Information Section of this manual), or the office of your legislative representative for information about the services available.

Clergy & Congregational Response

It is important, when addressing the needs of the victim of a robbery, assault or burglary, for the clergy person to not minimize the extent of trauma to the victim, the victim's family or his/her friends and neighbors. In light of the intensity of the other crimes considered in this manual, one might be tempted to minimize these crimes, particularly if the offense is not aggravated (involving the use of a weapon).

However, this time of victimization involves many of the same dynamics as are found in other crimes which might be considered more major. The sense of violation and loss always accompanies these crimes. A woman victim of a burglary, who came home and found that her personal clothing items had been rifled through, said that she was now unable to wear any of these items. It is the invasion of private space that is so offensive. This, of course, disturbs the victim's natural sense of order and threatens the faith of those who feel strongly that God is in control and the guarantor of order. This can result in a crisis of faith which needs to be addressed by the clergy.

Also there is usually a material loss. Since these types of crimes, unless aggravated, are lower on the priority of law enforcement, there is often just a report made for insurance purposes and nothing more. The victim is re-offended by the casualness of some law enforcement personnel regarding the apprehension of the offender. The attitude that "the insurance will take care of it" often disturbs the victim. It is important that the clergy counselor of the victim, not put a lot of emphasis on this other than to assist with any insurance problems that may occur. Insurance does not make it right. Often there is the loss of items which are not of much material value, but are priceless from the standpoint of treasured mementos and photographs. These are irreplaceable.

Then there is the safety factor. Anyone who has suffered a robbery or a burglary is concerned about its repetition. If the theft has been from a car the victim will probably from then on, without fail, always lock the car. If it is from the home, increased security measures are taken. This type of crime always leaves the victim less free and more cautious, often in a way that may seem overly cautious. If the pastoral counselor becomes concerned about the victim becoming paranoid, it is important that he/she not minimize the reason for this caution, and deal with it gently with understanding.

Of course, aggravated robbery involves the threat of major injury or even death, and all of the symptoms akin to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may be exhibited...shock, fear, anger, nausea, sleeplessness, "unreasonable" fear of others, inability to go to or be in certain places, reliving of the event, etc. It is well for the pastoral counselor to suggest psychological counseling, or the victim's participation in a trauma support group.

Most jurisdictions now have victim and witness assistance programs either in connection with prosecutor's offices or law enforcement. The pastoral counselor should be aware of these programs and assist the victim in making contact. These offices provide information on compensation for loss, as well as on psychological and support programs.

Ministering to Victims of Property Crimes

The possibilities for ministry to such victims by congregations are apparent. Ministries may include attempting to replace loss by giving assistance on insurance claims (Note: A police report generally must be filed for reimbursement by insurance), changing locks, fixing windows, and ministering to sense of loss and violation. (Note: An excellent National Christian-based program for assisting such victims is Neighbors Who Care, P.O. Box 17500, Washington, DC 20041-0500, (703) 478-0100.)

(1) Bureau of Justice Statistics, Report to the Nation on Crime and Justice, 2nd edition, March 1988.

(2) Crime Victims: Needs, Services and Reforms. I. Waller, Paper presented at 4th International Symposium on Victimology, Department of Criminology, Ottawa.

(3) Van Ness, Dan, Crime and Its Victims, Published by Inter Varsity Press, Downer's Grove, Illinois 60515, 1986.

(4) Excerpts from The Elderly Crime Victim, NOVA Network Information Bulletin, Vol. 2, No. 2, September 1985, National Organization for Victim Assistance, Washington, D.C.

(5) From Being Safe, Rape Treatment Center, Santa Monica Hospital Medical Center, Santa Monica, California, 1988.

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