Should insurance companies offer a premium for catching the criminal who robbed your home?
It’s time to put a bounty on the heads of burglars and ram robbers, one of Auckland’s mayoral candidates has said.
Rob Stock is a Stuff business journalist specializing in money and consumer issues.
OPINION: Auckland is a Wild West of crime, so it’s time to put some bounty on the heads of burglars and ram robbers, and our insurance companies should hoard the money.
That’s the suggestion of one of Auckland’s mayoral candidates, who says if elected he would work with insurance companies to offer rewards for catching criminals.
Sick of a city plagued by graffiti and crime, John Lehmann came up with the plan, and I really sympathize.
Businesses in my suburb of Epsom are suffering.
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Over the past two weeks, I’ve spoken with the manager of my local Freshchoice supermarket about the scourge of theft and the criminal damage the store has suffered.
I spoke with the owner of my local bottle shop, who started keeping his door locked after dark and only letting people in when he felt they weren’t a threat.
He’s had too many scary moments. He lost too much stock.
Auckland is suffering from the rise of bold branding as vandals seek out inaccessible places to daub so their work remains visible longer.
There’s an antique shop owner who has to repaint her sign after being the victim of a daredevil tagger who climbed up to daub her name on it.
The dairy closest to my house has new doors after being raided.
It’s depressing. It’s alienating.
But would setting up rewards be a good use of my insurer’s money?
I pay my insurer for catastrophe coverage. A broken window and a ding don’t bother me. It’s the fire, the earthquake and the back of an expensive car that worries me.
These are the things against which I insure my house, its contents and my car.
Lehman says there is no honor among thieves, and he would expect people to turn in the bad guys for money. Definitely worth trying, he thinks.
A starter problem with his plan is that the insurance companies aren’t on board. Neither Tower nor IAG (which owns the State, AMI and NZI brands) were keen on the idea when I asked them.
There are, however, other problems.
Haydn Smith, chief executive of Crimestoppers, a charity that makes it easy for people to phone in to give tips to pass on to the police, says rewards are only offered here in the most serious cases that have gone unsolved for years. many years.
It’s not in our culture to put bounties on heads, and there’s been a reluctance to give awards ever since the debacle in which a criminal claimed a reward for returning priceless military service medals that he had helped fly at the Waiouru National Army Museum in December 2007.
Community good, not money, is the reward for passing information to the police.
Rewards can be helpful. When a reward is offered for a violent crime abroad, it increases media coverage, encouraging people to provide information.
But most of the rewards offered are unclaimed.
The British charity Crimestoppers often offers rewards for information about serious crimes.
Its 2020 ‘impact report’ says it offers rewards of up to £10,000 (NZ$19,000) on serious cases, often when investigators are struggling because they hit a wall of silence, or that there is still a crucial missing piece of evidence.
“Over the past year, we offered nearly 50 enhanced rewards that generated vital leads for senior investigators,” the report said, but did not reveal how many were paid.
His financial statements show he paid £10,450 that year and £1,000 the following year.
As tempting as Lehman’s plan may seem, I’m not convinced it would be a good use of my insurance premiums.
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