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Storeowners Hope Cute Little Baby Faces Will Stop Crime

One street in London is hoping to dissuade potential looters by putting a gigantic baby face between them and their loot

You wouldn’t want to loot this little guy, would you? Image: Christopher Lance

Babies bring out the best behavior in most of us. We cut the cuss words and tend to put the weapons and sharp objects out of reach. Storeowners in London are now hoping that even just seeing a picture of a baby will have that effect and keep the hooligans at bay.

After intense looting in the 2011 riots that hit London hard, shop owners in southeast London were looking for a way to dissuade people from destroying their stores. Thus was born the “Babies of the Borough” experiment. They’ve painted baby faces on the metal shutters that close up the stores at night. Because who wants to hit a baby’s face with a hammer?

One of the shop keepers, Zaffar Awan, says he thinks their little experiment is working. He told the BBC, “It’s been here about three weeks now. Most passers-by who see him smile. I wish we could keep the shutters down and open the shop at the same time. That would be ideal.”

The advertising company who paid for the paintings pointed to some studies from the 1940′s that suggest that just seeing the image of a baby can change the way we behave. The idea is that seeing a baby makes us more caring and warm, and less likely to smash a door in and steal things.

Only time will tell whether the gigantic baby faces will actually dissuade looters, but in the meantime those in the streets can ogle their cute chubby cheeks all they want, and be happy that the store owners on their street aren’t using mosquito zapping technology instead.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Can Computers Predict Crimes?
Check Out the Milwaukee Police’s Mind-Blowing, Crime-Busting Site

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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