Micro Places – Groff & Taniguchi (2019)

Study Reference:

Groff, E., & Taniguchi, T. (2019). Using citizen notification to interrupt near-repeat residential burglary patterns: the micro-level near-repeat experiment. Journal of Experimental Criminology15(2), 115–149.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Micro places; Focused; Proactive; Very rigorous; Mixed findings

What police practice or strategy was examined?

Swift resident notification for the prevention of repeat burglaries was examined. This program was based on research showing that locations near a burglary incident are at an elevated risk of being burgled for a few weeks following the incident. To prevent these burglaries, police identified Near-Repeat High-Risk Zones following burglary reports (measured as 800 ft from the burglary location). Police volunteers working in uniform then went in person to notify residents in the high-risk zones and distribute crime prevention information materials to them within 24 hours of the notification of burglary and assignment of that burglary to the treatment group. If the residents did not answer their door, information was placed on the front doorknob about the burglary risk in the area and how residents could prevent being burglarized. The program was implemented in two counties, selected because they each had a motivated volunteer or police auxiliary group, burglary data that indicated a significant burglary issue, and the two counties were on opposite coasts.

How was the intervention evaluated?

High-risk zones where burglaries had taken place were randomly assigned to receive the special notifications (treatment group) or not receive them (control group). Both residents and police volunteers were surveyed about how they responded to the treatment and the effects of participating in a proactive crime prevention intervention. Burglary counts in the target areas were compared to burglaries in control areas postintervention to assess the program’s effect.

What were the key findings?

The intervention did not significantly reduce burglary in the treatment zones in either of the two counties where it was tested. Combining data across counties, however, the program produced a small but significant reduction in burglaries in the treatment zones during the first 1-2 weeks after the notifications (amounting to 0.04 fewer burglaries on average in the treatment zones during the second week). Residents had positive perceptions of the program based on their survey results. All residents who responded to the survey recommended that the police department continue the program. Police volunteers also reported positive perceptions of the program, though more were undecided about whether the program should continue.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

Intervention for preventing pattern crimes such as burglary is challenging and requires coordination with volunteers and other agencies or organizations. Because of the fast pace at which burglaries occur, another may already be taking place by the time a burglary is discovered and reported (or while a burglary remains undiscovered and unreported). Therefore, the pace at which burglaries occur should be considered when implementing preventative measures.

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