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The usefulness of measuring spatial opportunity structures for tracking down offenders: A theoretical analysis of geographic offender profiling using simulation studies

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Geographic offender profiling (GOP) is an investigative activity aimed at locating an offender's residence on the basis of where he or she commits offences. Current tools that assist in GOP assume that spatial opportunity structures for crime are uniform: they assume that potential targets are evenly distributed in space, and that potential targets are equally attractive everywhere. In addition, they assume that travel distance is the only criterion that offenders consider when choosing a crime site. This paper demonstrates that, with the help of an extended target selection model, GOP tools could be improved if they measured and utilized spatial variation in criminal opportunity structures. The results of a computer simulation study illustrate this finding.

Keywords: Geographic offender profiling; criminal target selection; distance decay

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR), Leiden, The Netherlands

Publication date: April 1, 2007


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