Burglar Target Selection: A Cross-National Comparison

M. Townsley, D. Birks, W. Bernasco, S.D. Johnson, S. Ruiter, G. White

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: This study builds on research undertaken by Bernasco and Nieuwbeerta and explores the generalizability of a theoretically derived offender target selection model in three cross-national study regions. Methods: Taking a discrete spatial choice approach, we estimate the impact of both environment- and offender-level factors on residential burglary placement in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Combining cleared burglary data from all study regions in a single statistical model, we make statistical comparisons between environments. Results: In all three study regions, the likelihood an offender selects an area for burglary is positively influenced by proximity to their home, the proportion of easily accessible targets, and the total number of targets available. Furthermore, in two of the three study regions, juvenile offenders under the legal driving age are significantly more influenced by target proximity than adult offenders. Post hoc tests indicate the magnitudes of these impacts vary significantly between study regions. Conclusions: While burglary target selection strategies are consistent with opportunity-based explanations of offending, the impact of environmental context is significant. As such, the approach undertaken in combining observations from multiple study regions may aid criminology scholars in assessing the generalizability of observed findings across multiple environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-31
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Issue number1
Early online date31 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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