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Japanese police develop behavioral change tool to encourage kids to lock front doors

The "Tadaima shoot" is seen attached to a mock-up door prepared by Aichi Prefectural Police at Ichinomiya Municipal Tanyo Elementary School in Aichi Prefecture. (Mainichi/Ayaka Morita)

NAGOYA -- Aichi Prefectural Police has teamed up with an Osaka University researcher to use behavioral change theory to develop a tool for encouraging children to lock their front doors.

    The basketball-themed tool is called the "Tadaima shoot," or "I'm home shoot." A ball is attached to the thumb-turn of a deadbolt lock, and stuck to the door next to it is a net. When the lock is turned, the ball drops into the basket. There is also a bell inside the ball which rings when the deadbolt is unlocked, reminding people going out to lock the door behind them.

    The tools will be distributed to about 22,500 children in the prefecture. A ceremony to present the tools at Ichinomiya Municipal Tanyo Elementary School in Aichi Prefecture was held on Oct. 19, and officers also demonstrated how to use them.

    The idea came from Shuji Wakisaka, an assistant inspector in the prefectural police's community safety administration division. He spent about five months developing the "Tadaima shoot" together with professor Naohiro Matsumura of Osaka University, a researcher in behavioral change theory and methods, and head of the "Shikakeology Lab" at the school. "Shikake" means trap or gadget, and Matsumura concentrates his work on physical tools as a "trigger for behavior change to solve a problem."

    A "shikake" introduced as a shoplifting countermeasure by Tokoname Police Station met with success, so Wakisaka and Matsumura thought the method could help make sure doors get locked as well. Wakisaka said, "I want people to get into the habit of locking their doors while enjoying themselves, rather than trying to force them."

    According to the prefectural police, there were 798 burglaries between January and the end of September this year, of which 262, or about 30%, involved unlocked doors. Total damages hit about 1.22 billion yen ($10.7 million). There are cases of people's homes being broken into while they are in the house, so the police are urging people to make sure to lock their doors when they return home.

    At Tanyo Elementary School, student Soma Inoue assembled and demonstrated the "Tadaima shoot." Inoue said, "It was easy. From now on, I want to have fun locking the door with my little brother."

    (Japanese original by Ayaka Morita, Nagoya News Center)

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