Translating ‘Near Repeat’ Theory into a Geospatial Policing Strategy

Project Description/Goals

For over 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. This phenomenon, now referred to as “near repeat” burglary patterns can be quantified and usually involve an increased level of risk at nearby locations for a relatively short distance and a limited time period. A localized near repeat calculator designed to estimate the spatial and temporal parameters of near repeat patterns was created by Dr. Jerry Ratcliffe (2007) under an NIJ grant.  This project aimed to use the knowledge surrounding near repeat burglary to develop a crime prevention strategy.


Study Design & Methods

Broadly speaking, our research sought to determine if knowledge about near repeat patterns of burglary can actually be used for crime prevention purposes. Within this framework, we attempted 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 used was a one-page information-rich document that would indicate that an incident has occurred and crime prevention efforts that can be undertaken by residents. We also included links to further online information. 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 department volunteers.)

The study identify the near repeat patter in two police departments (Redlands, CA, and Baltimore County, MD). An automated system was developed to identify originator events, generate the near repeat high risk area (as a polygon), randomly allocate the event to treatment or control, notify the project coordinator of the homes to be visited with crime prevention information, and report the street hundred blocks at highest risk of near repeat burglaries. The project was designed to test whether quickly notifying community residents that they are at an increased risk for a burglary and providing them with burglary prevention tips could interrupt the phenomena of near repeat burglaries.

We evaluated whether homes within the treatment area were victimized less than those in the control areas. A random sample of residents was surveyed to discover whether they received information and what actions they took in response. We also surveyed volunteers who delivered the information to the homes to gain their insights into the process.



The study was recently completed and results will be forthcoming. Additional work on further advancing the automated processing tool for agencies is underway.


Funding & Collaboration

This study is being funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).


Implications for Policy & Practice

Implications for this project cover a range of theoretical, policing, and crime prevention topics. Since the crime prevention strategy is based on criminological theory, the results will help sharpen those theories. From the view of practice, we will know if this combination of treatments and associated strengths can disrupt the pattern of near repeats. By surveying residents to determine their specific responses to the community notification we can learn more about how and why people did or did not react to their knowledge of elevated risk.



Study in progress.

5 Things You Need to Know About Near-Repeat Patterns and Crime Prevention


Point of Contact

Karen L. Amendola, PhD
(202) 833-1460

Maria Valdovinos
(202) 833-1460


Principal investigators

Elizabeth Groff, PhD, Temple University
Travis Taniguchi, PhD, Research Triangle Institute (RTI)

For more information see:
Ratcliffe, J. H. (2009). Near repeat calculator (version 1.3). Philadelphia, PA and Washington, DC: Temple University and National Institute of Justice.



Residential burglary, near repeat phenomenon, geospatial applications, near repeat calculator

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