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How do Residential Burglars Select Target Areas?: A New Approach to the Analysis of Criminal Location Choice

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 45 Issue: 3 Dated: May 2005 Pages: 296-315
Wim Bernasco; Paul Nieuwbeerta
Date Published
May 2005
20 pages
This paper introduces the discrete spatial choice approach and applies the selection approach to analyze residential burglars’ target selection which is identified as being influenced by target characteristics and by offender characteristics simultaneously.
A classical problem in criminology is criminal choice location. In other words, where do offenders commit their offenses and why do they commit them there? To study the criminal target choice, this paper introduces the discrete spatial choice approach which is used to assess whether residential burglars are attracted to target areas that are affluent, accessible, and poorly guarded. The spatial choice approach is argued as able to integrate previous findings and is a useful theoretical and methodological tool for research in criminal target choice. In this paper, the discrete spatial choice approach is applied to analyze residential burglars’ target area choice in the city of The Hague (Netherlands). It was found that the likelihood of a neighborhood’s being selected for burglary was positively influenced by its supposed lack of guardianship, as indicated by ethnic heterogeneity, by its physical accessibility as measured by the percentage of single family dwellings, and by the number of potential objects in the neighborhood. The discrete spatial choice approach appears to be applicable to the location choice in offenses other than residential burglary, as well as in geographic profiling. References


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