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Effects of Target Characteristics on the Sighting and Arrest of Offenders at Burglary Emergencies

NCJ Number
Security Journal Volume: 24 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2011 Pages: 157-178
Timothy Coupe; Laurence Blake
Date Published
April 2011
22 pages
The purpose of this study is to make a number of contributions to understanding the relationship between target characteristics, and the sightings and arrest of burglars.
This study is based on burglary site surveys, a questionnaire survey of police officers and incident logs. It is distinctive methodologically in relating target characteristics to burglar sightings and arrests. Target characteristics influenced the on-scene capture of burglars, partly through affecting how early in the burglary the offender was spotted, and, hence, how much time was available to the police to intercept them. They also affected capture by facilitating or hampering arrest after offenders had left the crime scene. Cover from vegetation and darkness, poorly lit streets, rear alleyways and poorer neighbor-target inter-visibility led to later sighting of burglars that, in turn, lowered the chances of an arrest. When property was occupied at night, there were fewer arrests because of the darkness and because many offenders realized they had been seen or heard, and fled the scene. In contrast, more daytime sightings were by neighbors so that the prospects of capture were better. Daylight vegetative cover and better-lit streets after dark modified offender exposure, directly affecting the prospects of an arrest. Although spotted later, burglars were highly vulnerable to arrest after leaving targets with rear alleys after dark. (Published Abstract)


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