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Behav Sci Law. 2010 May-Jun;28(3):442-60. doi: 10.1002/bsl.916.

A theoretical and practical test of geographical profiling with serial vehicle theft in a U.K. context.

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University of Leicester, UK. <>


Geographical profiling is an investigative methodology sometimes employed by the police to predict the residence of an unknown offender from the locations of his/her crimes. The validity of geographical profiling, however, has not been fully explored for certain crime types. This study, therefore, presents a preliminary test of the potential for geographical profiling with a sample of 145 serial vehicle thieves from the U.K. The behavioural assumptions underlying geographical profiling (distance decay and domocentricity) are tested and a simple practical test of profiling using the spatial mean is presented. There is evidence for distance decay but not domocentricity among the spatial behaviour of car thieves from the U.K. A degree of success was achieved when applying the spatial mean on a case-by-case basis. The level of success varied, however, and neither series length in days nor number of crimes could account for the variation. The findings question previously held assumptions regarding geographical profiling and have potential theoretical and practical implications for the study and investigation of vehicle theft in the U.K.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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