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Addicted to joyriding? An exploration of young offenders' accounts of their car crime

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The youth crime of “joyriding” (stealing a car for the fun of driving) has been, largely anecdotally, considered as addictive. This study explored the concept of addiction to joyriding by considering the activity within the context of a dependency model. Fifty, in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with convicted joyriders (aged 15–21 years) from England and Northern Ireland. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and, using DSM-type dependency criteria as the standard by which addictive behaviour could be determined, a qualitative thematic analysis was undertaken. A range of dependency criteria were found to be present in the careers of joyriders and it was concluded that some individuals appeared to be engaging in their joyriding activities in an addictive manner. Implications in terms of the rehabilitation of persistent joyriders are discussed, as well as theoretical implications concerning the nature of exploratory research into the nature of potentially addictive behaviours.

Keywords: Addiction; car crime; dependency; joyriding; young offenders

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Community Drug and Alcohol Services, Drury House, 50 Leicester Road, Narborough, Leicester, LE19 2DF, UK 2: Department of Human Sciences, Loughborough University, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, UK

Publication date: January 1, 2006


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