I think one of the most misunderstood aspects of the criminal mindset is the concept of opportunism. I find it’s difficult to get people who aren’t hardened criminals to really process what criminal opportunism actually is. It’s probably most easily understood by looking at the behavior of a predator like a grizzly bear. Grizzlies are omnivores, meaning they will eat just about anything. They spend the majority of their time roaming around their territory looking for the next meal. They have an excellent sense of smell that detects possibilities for a meal from improbable distances. They are perpetually on the hunt for something…anything…and when they see an opportunity for a meal they go for it. It doesn’t matter if that opportunity is a run of salmon, a young moose, crabs hiding in the mud, or something currently being consumed by a smaller and weaker bear. The grizzly is an opportunist, but that doesn’t mean the bear sits there and waits for food to fall in his lap.
... The predatory mindset is actively looking for a victim no matter the time, place, or circumstance. A bear may leave his den with the intention of mating or marking his territory, but if he spots the opportunity for a meal along the way he’ll take it. The criminal may be in Wal-Mart for a perfectly ordinary shopping trip, but when he sees the opportunity for robbery, rape, and murder he’ll take it.He illustrates his story by reference to a particular rape/murder incident, and observes:
... the thing that stuck out most to me was the opportunism. These two vile bastards were in the store, saw Mrs. Petit and little Michaela, and upon seeing them bought a pellet gun, some rope, and other sundries at the same store (If I remember correctly) to carry out their plan. This wasn’t something they planned for months or even days. It’s something they came up with on the spot in a matter of seconds.Not all criminals are opportunists, but the majority are. "Violent criminals are opportunists who look for targets that can be easily taken, robbed, or assaulted without resistance or an obvious ability to immediately summon help." (See also this paper on "Opportunity Makes the Thief" and a later, follow up paper).