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deterrent to car theft. The results of the study are reviewed in Chapter 6, and their main policy implications identified.

2 Offender profile

This chapter presents findings on the extent of the sample's involvement in car ciiinc and other offending, as well as daia on their home, school, work and leisure backgrounds.

Car crime biography Age first involved

Almost half the sample (47%) said that they were 14 or 15 years old when they first started taking cars. Figure 2.1 shows that one person began at the age of 10, while at the other extreme, another did not start until the age of 25.

Sixty-eight per cent said they got involved with car crime while still of school age—although not all were still attending school (see below). Of those who had reached school leaving age when starting to steal cars, most (66%) were unemployed. For the sample as a whole, only two per cent were working when they started to steal cars; 22 per cent were unemployed.

Up to the age of 15 slightly fewer had driven on the road than had begun car crime, suggesting that after becoming involved, it took a little time before stolen cars were actually driven (see Chapter 3). Figure 2.2 presents details of when respondents had first driven, whether or not this was in connection with stealing a car.

Slightly tangentially, the current sample's opinion on when others started to commit car crime produced an average age of 14, though answers ranged through nine (n = 3) to 19 (n= 1). This reflects the typical age of their own involvement.

Length of involvement

In all, 28 per cent of the sample had less than 12 months car theft experience, 46 per cent had been involved for at least two years, and 21 per cent for more than five (six of these having offended for more than 10 years). Not surprisingly, age was linked to length of involvement in car crime (Figure 2.3).

The vast majority of the 15/16 year olds (n = 21) had been involved in theft for between six months and two years, whereas for the 18-20 year olds (n-24),

7

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