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Malicious Hoax Calls and Suspicious Fires: An Examination of Their Spatial and Temporal Dynamics

NCJ Number
Jonathan Corcoran; Tara Renae McGee; Michael Townsley; Rebecca Wickes; Renee Zahnow; Tiebei Li
Date Published
July 2013
5 pages
This study identified the temporal and spatial patterns of malicious hoax calls and suspicious fires, using unit-level location data provided by the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (Australia).
The study found that for each year of the 13 years between January 1, 1998, and December 31, malicious hoax calls were positively spatially auto-correlated. There was some evidence to suggest that the strength of this finding increased over time. For suspicious fires, the relationship was broadly the same as malicious hoax calls, in that each year was positively spatially auto-correlated; however, there was some evidence that the strength of this finding decreased over time, trending toward a more random distribution. Study results have the potential to provide critical information on the persistent, transient, and emergent location of "hotspots" of malicious hoax calls and suspicious fires. This information can be used to guide resource allocation in anticipation of malicious hoax calls and suspicious fires. In identifying the location and timing of suspicious fires, guidance is provided for the targeting of prevention strategies. This study also proposes a new technique for developing and implementing evidence-based prevention strategies. Called the local Moran temporal plot, this technique augments the original Moran scatter plot technique recently developed by Corcoran et al. The local Moran statistic is computed for each year and then graphed for each State suburb in a single Moran scatter plot. All years are plotted within a single graphic using the square and circle representation in the Moran temporal plot. 3 figures and 14 references