Individuals – Fox & Farrington (2015)

Study Reference:

Fox, B. H., & Farrington, D. P. (2015). An experimental evaluation on the utility of burglary profiles applied in active police investigations. Criminal Justice and Behavior42(2), 156-175.

See also:

Fox, B. H., & Farrington, D. P. (2012). Creating burglary profiles using latent class analysis: A new approach to offender profiling. Criminal Justice and Behavior39(12), 1582-1611.

Location in the Matrix and Methodological Rigor:

Individual; Focused; Reactive; Moderately Rigorous; Effective

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study examines the Statistical Patterns of Offending Typology (SPOT), an offender profiling methodology developed by Fox and Farrington (2012) to identify statistically related patterns of offending behaviors and offenders’ traits for burglary. SPOT identified four types of burglary offenders, each associated with a unique set of traits and criminal histories. Department-wide training sessions were provided to officers and property crime detectives over a 3-week timeframe on how to apply the burglary profiles in their ongoing investigations. Once a profile was identified for a burglar, crime analysts would then use that profile to search a database of past offenders who fit the criteria to provide detectives with leads. While the burglary profile is not considered legal evidence, the researchers believed it could help investigators prioritize the most probable types of suspects for a certain modus operandi. The experiment lasted for approximately 1 year in 2012.

How was the intervention evaluated?

Four police agencies in Florida were selected for this study based on their similarities in location, size, number of sworn officers, burglary arrest rate, and burglary incident rate. Based on convenience, one of these agencies were assigned to the treatment group and the other three to the control condition. Burglary arrest rates for the treatment and control agencies in the three-year pretest and one-year posttest periods were then collected and compared.

What were the key findings?

The burglary arrest rate for the treatment department increased from 11.3% pretest to 30.1% posttest, whereas in the control agencies, it declined from 15.9% to 10.9%. This translates to a 260% posttest increase in the burglary arrest rate in the treatment condition as compared with the control condition, controlling for pretest differences in arrest rates and burglary incidence rates.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The authors suggest that statistically based behavioral profiles could be a useful tool in increasing arrest rates for police.

Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?