Neighborhood – Krimmel & Mele (1998)

Study Reference:

Krimmel. J. T., & Mele, M. (1998). Investigating stolen vehicle dump sites: An interrupted time series quasi-experiment. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management, 21, 479-489.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Neighborhood; Focused; Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; Effective

What police practice or strategy was examined?

A multi-jurisdictional law enforcement response to increased motor vehicle thefts in downtown areas. Officials from multiple cities created an auto-theft task force. Because auto thieves operate in both urban and suburban areas and because they continue to dump and steal vehicles in the same general locations, the dump sites became the focus of the task force enforcement strategy. As the task force members staked out their targets, they looked for “packs” of stolen cars. The task force strategy then was to close off all avenues of escape and block the thieves in with the police cars. This stops the thieves from running and eliminates a high-speed chase situation.

How was the intervention evaluated?

Interrupted time series analysis was used to assess the impact of the enforcement program on auto thefts in the four communities involved. Reported auto thefts were analyzed monthly in these communities from January 1986 through December 1995 (the intervention began in February 1991). Trends in auto theft were also examined during this time in four comparable cities that did not have the program.

What were the key findings?

There was a statistically significant drop in reported auto thefts in the program cities after the intervention. The comparison cities also had a drop in reported auto thefts during this time, but this drop was not statistically significant. Thus, the authors concluded that the intervention significantly reduced reported auto thefts in the targeted jurisdictions.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The use of spatial and temporal analysis to examine auto thefts and recoveries helped the police develop an effective multi-jurisdictional enforcement strategy to reduce auto theft. Targeting identified dump points of stolen vehicles for investigative operations can be an effective method of addressing auto thefts.

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