Why we only need the slightest of excuses to behave criminally.

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Abandoned cars are a nuisance.

Their selfish owners make them a problem for someone else to deal with by dumping them at random. And it’s a problem that seems to be on the rise.

Earlier this year, The Telegraph reported that the UK was ‘becoming a scrapyard’ due to the fact that the number of abandoned vehicles had trebled in less than five years.

To distinguish between cars that have simply been parked for a while and those that have been abandoned the police will often place a ‘police aware’ sticker on the vehicle to let the public know that they know.

Interestingly, this has the unintended consequence of making them more likely to be vandalised and stripped of their parts.

Why is this?

It’s really rather simple even if it is a bit of a tragic commentary on human behaviour. The presence of a sticker is a signal that the owner has abandoned their vehicle and therefore it’s no longer someone’s possession. This is an invitation for opportunists to behave in a criminal fashion.

This is a great example of the law of unintended consequences where one action can end up creating a new desired or undesired outcome.

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