TARGET HARDENING involves increasing the physical or electronic resistance of individual objects or spaces to the force of criminal attack.


For example, a window strengthened by the fixture of a grille to reduce exterior vulnerability. This principle can be applied to hardening the outer shell of a bag to help reduce crimes like slashing and lifting. Designers should bear in mind that resistance can also be achieved by target softening – as with the incorporation of swivelling handle fixings to deflect force or ‘fluffy’ surfaces to deflect blades. And giving something the appearance of resistance (whatever its ‘real’ resistance) may deter or discourage offenders (respectively make them believe theft is too risky or too much effort for too little reward) so they do not even attempt an attack. This has the additional advantage of avoiding trauma for the victim and damage to the bag from a failed attempt.




Roly-Poly Backpack
Eddie Lee from the Art Center College of Design


The Personal Anti-theft Portable Locker draws inspiration from roly-polys, armadillos and lobsters. It has a soft inner backpack and a hard articulated shell that can be separated from the lining. While the design of this thing is pretty great looking, it’s a brilliant solution to the urban dilemma of “I need to ditch my bag for a few hours.” All you do is wrap the shell around a secure structure like a sign post or lamp pole and lock it in place. Anti-terrorism considerations however may indicate discretion, or a different design.


Zip Zip bag
Georg Hansis


One Central Saint Martin’s student has designed into a handbag the strategy of ‘confusing’ the potential thief by camouflaging the actual zip opening to the bag with many other, identical zips. The effort (and time, hence also risk) required to successfully steal the bag’s contents is then perceived as far too great, so the offender abandons the attempt at an early stage.