Dangerous Creative Inspiration – Think like a Criminal

Imagine that you were going to commit a crime. Which of the following items would you steal?

  • car
  • laundry detergents
  • cash
  • a jar of Nutella
  • smartphone
  • jewellery
  • pregnancy test

Think like a criminal and you may gain valuable insights.

There are several versions of the saying “A good composer does not imitate; he steals,” (credited to Igor Stravinsky). Faulkner allegedly said, “Immature artists copy, great artists steal.” Steve Jobs said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

Steal in these saying does not mean “plagiarise;”  and it does not explicitly mean “copy.” Artist can be inspired by other artists and turn it into something new. Although this is in itself interesting it is not what this blog post is going to explore. The aim is to explore ways that criminal think and use this as inspiration for ideas. It might seem like an outrageous idea to think like a criminal but like many other thinking challenges, it can lead to insights.

It may be great to have some of the energy that is a characteristic of a criminal but their thinking is often based upon fear. A widespread, persistent and intense fear. Like the fear of being caught. Criminals also often experience themselves as being nothing, a state of worthlessness and hopelessness. Moreover, criminals tend to think of particular objects and events rather than abstract concepts.

But thinking like a criminal may give you a unique perspective upon the world.

Cars, cash. jewellery and smartphone are among the items that most of us, including insurance companies, expect thieves to target. Care is taken to keep these items safe. Should you also lock up the jar of Nutella? Items like laundry powder and other rather ordinary household products are among the most commonly stolen goods. In some cases, the value of these items is not easily visible, like catalytic converters for the platinum or manhole covers. Metal objects are often stolen to be resold as scrap metals. The rising price of metal like copper and platinum is attracting the attention of criminals.

Laundry detergent is a rather expensive everyday product that is found in almost every home. It is a product that there is a consistent demand for making it is to sell. Younger thieves may steal pregnancy tests to avoid embarrassment, yet, organised crime groups may steal the tests for their resale value. The demand for the product is so consistent that it is easy to sell. The price of this product is near-retail prices which makes it even better from the criminal’s perspective.

By taking the perspective of a criminal and studying their crimes, ideas for new inventions and ways to solve problems may appear. For a thief a small everyday product that is easy to carry with high resale value is perfect. Here is a framework to use when you design your next idea.  Add something to make laundry powder or jars of Nutella less desirable.

Be inspired to make the world a little bit better by choosing a crime and study how criminals think. You may be pleasantly surprised by the ideas that you may get.

Looking for more inspiration, go here to read the blog post:  Steal Like a Kleptoparasite or Cunning Animal Thief


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