Target selection models with preference variation between offenders

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

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: This study explores preference variation in location choice strategies of residential burglars. Applying a model of offender target selection that is grounded in assertions of the routine activity approach, rational choice perspective, crime pattern and social disorganization theories, it seeks to address the as yet untested assumption that crime location choice preferences are the same for all offenders. Methods: Analyzing detected residential burglaries from Brisbane, Australia, we apply a random effects variant of the discrete spatial choice model to estimate preference variation between offenders across six location choice characteristics. Furthermore, in attempting to understand the causes of this variation we estimate how offenders’ spatial target preferences might be affected by where they live and by their age. Results: Findings of this analysis demonstrate that while in the aggregate the characteristics of location choice are consistent with the findings from previous studies, considerable preference variation is found between offenders. Conclusions: This research highlights that current understanding of choice outcomes is relatively poor and that existing applications of the discrete spatial choice approach may underestimate preference variation between offenders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-304
JournalJournal of Quantitative Criminology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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