Adolescent offenders' current whereabouts predict locations of their future crimes
Where adolescents currently spend their time is highly predictive of where they will commit crimes in the near and distant future, according to a study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Wim Bernasco from the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR) and VU University Amsterdam.
01/31/2019 | 12:57 PM
Whereabouts of adolescents are concentrated and highly predictable
A sample of 843 adolescents in The Hague, the Netherlands, reported their hourly whereabouts during four days. In line with findings from other sources and populations, their locations were concentrated and predictable. They spent about 75 percent of their time in their two most visited locations (typically home and school), their action radius was limited to 3.2 km, and the predictability of their whereabouts was 96 percent.
During the subsequent four years, 70 of the participants were apprehended by the police for committing one or more crimes. Together they committed 165 crimes. The mobility patterns (measured at the start of these four years) of the offenders were generally similar to those of the non-offenders.
Likelihood of crime raises with visiting frequency and declines with distance
As predicted from the mechanisms of preferential return and spatial exploration, offenders tended to perpetrate crimes in and around locations they had visited before, including locations where they previously offended. The likelihood of crime raises with visiting frequency and decreases with distance from previously visited locations.
The findings show that the high predictability of human mobility applies to offending and to offenders as well, and help us understand and forecast where they will commit future crimes. They may be applied in criminal investigations, as they can help police prioritize suspects based on the locations of the offences they committed.
Bernasco, Wim (2019). Adolescent offenders' current whereabouts predict locations of their future crimes. PLOS ONE.