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The Routine Activity Theory (RAT) provides simple but powerful insight into criminal activity. Basically, it states that in the absence of effective controls, an offender will target a victim. For a crime to occur, there must be a motivated offender, a target, and a place where the two will meet. If any one of these elements is absent, no crime can occur. RAT can be applied to physical and property crimes. It can also be used as a means of preventing a crime. With the inclusion of appropriate handlers, managers, and guardians, most criminal activity can be prevented.

Upon successful completion of this assignment, you will be able to:

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of criminological theories to explain why people engage in crime.
  • Analyze how the phrase “old wine in a new bottle” does and does not describe the nature of cybercrimes.


  • Textbook: Cybercrime and Digital Forensics: An Introduction
  • Article: Applying Routine Activity Theory to Cybercrime: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis
  • Website: OCLS Critical Evaluation Checklist for Internet Websites
  • IWU Resources

Background Information

Through the application of traditional criminological theories such as Routine Activity Theory, we can begin to understand the reasoning cybercriminals use to rationalize or justify their criminal behavior. There are few new criminological theories specifically designed to discuss cybercrime. One such theory is the Space Transition Theory (STT). The STT posits that people behave differently when they move from one space to another. In other words, an individual’s behavior online is not representative of how they behave in the real world.


  1. Review the rubric to make sure you understand the criteria for earning your grade.
  2. Review the following chapters in the textbook, Cybercrime and Digital Forensics: An Introduction:
    1. Chapter 7 & 8, “Pornography, Prostitution, and Sex Crimes & Child Pornography and Sexual Exploitation”
    2. Chapter 9, “Cyberbullying, Online Harassment, and Cyberstalking”
    3. Chapter 11, “Cybercrime and Criminological Theories”
  1. Review the article: “Applying Routine Activity Theory to Cybercrime: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis
  1. In a 750- to 1,000-word essay, explain whether traditional criminological theories effectively describe why people commit cybercrimes. In your essay, be sure to cover the following:
    1. Define Routine Activity Theory and General Theory of Crime.
    2. Which of these two theories best accounts for how people are at risk for cybercrime victimization? Explain.
    3. Explain why the phrase “old wine in a new bottle” does or does not describe cybercrime.
    4. Explain why some cybercrimes don’t fit within the scope of that phrase, and how they are materially different from older kinds of crimes.



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