Translating ‘Near Repeat’ Theory into a Geospatial Policing Strategy: A Randomized Experiment Testing a Theoretically-Informed Strategy for Preventing Residential Burglary
For almost a decade research has shown that once a burglary occurs on a street, the homes on that street and on nearby streets are at a much higher risk of burglary over the next one to two weeks. But this research finding has not yet been translated into actionable crime prevention strategies for police agencies and tested in the United States using a randomized controlled experiment. This project aims to correct this deficiency by using the knowledge surrounding near repeat burglary to develop a crime prevention strategy.
Broadly speaking, our research seeks to determine if knowledge about near repeat patterns of burglary can actually be used for crime prevention purposes. Within this framework, we are attempting to determine if raising awareness about crime issues and crime prevention techniques with the residents near burglary locations can reduce further burglary in the area. The targeted department strategy we are suggesting is a one-page information-rich document (in English and Spanish) that would indicate that an incident has occurred and crime prevention efforts that can be undertaken by residents. We will also include in that document links to further information that will be available on line. A key feature of this experiment is the ability to get this information to all households within the defined area within 24 hours of a particular burglary incident (using community policing or patrol officers, auxiliary officers, or formal departmental volunteers).
The proposed work will first identify the near repeat patterns in two police departments (Redlands, CA, and Baltimore County, MD). Next it will develop an automated system to identify originator events, generate the near repeat high risk area (as a polygon), randomly allocate the event to treatment or control, and notify the project coordinator of the homes to be visited with crime prevention information. The automated system will be integrated into the workflow of two police agencies and will enable us the test whether notification of increased risk can interrupt the phenomena of near repeat burglaries.
At the end of the experiment, we will evaluate whether homes within the treatment areas were victimized less than those in the control areas. A random sample of residents will be surveyed to discover whether they received information and what actions they took in response. If a crime reduction occurs, a cost analysis will be conducted to discover whether the money saved through prevention offset the additional funds spent on notification.
At the conclusion of the project, we will have created: (1) a crime prevention hangtag in English in Spanish detailing steps residents can take to reduce the risk of residential burglary, (2) practitioner oriented training material on the science behind near repeat residential burglary, (3) a post intervention survey instrument, (4) a geo-processing model for identifying treatment areas, and (5) a final substantive report.