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Program Profile: Offender Profiling (OP) Applied in Active Police Investigations in Burglaries in Florida

Evidence Rating: Effective - One study Effective - One study

Date: This profile was posted on January 10, 2018

Program Summary

This is a criminal investigation method used by law enforcement to increase burglary arrest rates using statistically derived offender profiles. The intervention was implemented in one police department in Florida for use in active burglary investigations. The program was rated Effective. Results showed a statistically significant increase in burglary arrest rates for the police department that implemented the program.

Program Description

Program Goals
The Offender Profiling (OP) intervention in Florida aims to increase burglary arrest rates by using offender profiles to aid police in prioritizing the most probable types of suspects for a certain style of offense, as shown in prior statistical analyses of offender traits and offending behaviors. OP identifies the major personality, behavioral, and demographic characteristics of an offender based on an analysis of the crimes he or she has committed to aid in solving burglary cases. The intervention was implemented in one police department in Florida.
 
Program Components
The program involved the application of the Statistical Patterns of Offending Typology (SPOT) for burglary developed by Fox and Farrington (2012). Burglary offense reports and arrest records were coded into four different styles with specific characteristics. Criminal history and demographic information was also collected to classify offenders according to burglary styles. The following four types of offense and offender descriptions were used as a starting point for targeting the individual who may have committed the crime: 
  • Opportunistic
    • Offense description: entry left open, no preparation or tools, unoccupied residence, low-value items stolen, little evidence left behind
    • Offender description: young, adolescent-onset short criminal career, low-offending frequency, does not know victim, usually male, versatility, prior petty theft/ shoplifting arrests, does not have a car
  • Organized
    • Offense description: clean but forced entry, tools brought to scene, no evidence left behind, high-value items stolen
    • Offender description: older, adolescent-onset, high-offending frequency, limited versatility, prior arrests for theft/burglary, often has a car, cohabiting or has partner, may have met victim
  • Disorganized
    • Offense description: forced entry, scene left in disarray, tools and/or evidence left, low-value or no items stolen
    • Offender description: young, early-onset long criminal career, high-offending frequency, versatility, past arrests for drug offense, does not know victim
  • Interpersonal
    • Offense description:  occupied residence, the target is the victim and not objects, attempted, threatened, or committed violence at scene, personal items stolen
    • Offender description: adult, late-criminal onset, solo offender, has a car, single/not cohabitating, no record, but if arrested, usually for violence, select female victims, knows victim 
The police department in Florida received training sessions, “how to guides,” and one-on-one field training sessions for 3 weeks. These sessions were provided for all officers and property crime detectives in the police department.

The one-on-one field trainings included a seminar that demonstrated the purpose and use of burglary profiles, in-depth explanations and descriptions of the profiles, their intended use, and their limitations. Field training was conducted to demonstrate how to apply offender profiles. The field training emphasized what specific elements to look for at each crime scene. High-ranking law enforcement officers, including the sergeant of the property crimes unit, the police chief, the deputy chief, and captains, were also given additional training on burglary profiles to oversee their continued use.
 
Crime analysts were also trained on burglary profiles and how to upload the profiles into their department’s electronic database. The databases and burglary profiles were combined to generate suspect lists and leads once a burglary style was determined that would lead to additional investigations by detectives. As always, additional evidence constituting probable cause had to be established in each case for an arrest warrant from a judge to be legally issued against a suspect.  

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Burglary Arrest Rates
After the 1-year follow up, Fox and Farrington (2015) found that the police department that used the Offender Profiling intervention in active burglary investigations had a statistically significant higher burglary arrest rate (30.1 percent) than agencies in the comparison group (10.9 percent). 
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Fox and Farrington (2015) used a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the effect of the Offender Profiling (OP) intervention on burglary arrest rates. Four police departments in Florida participated in the study. One treatment department was matched to three comparison departments based on agency location, department size, burglary arrests, and crime rate in the jurisdiction. The treatment police department had a burglary arrest rate of 11.9 percent while the control police departments had burglary arrest rates between 12.8 and 18.7 percent. The results from t-tests showed no statistically significant differences in burglary rates or burglary arrest rates across the four police departments before initiation of the treatment. 
 
The treatment department received training on what burglary profiles are, how to use offender profiles, and limitations of the profiles. The treatment department also received field training to determine how to select one of the four burglary styles when viewing a crime scene. The comparison agencies (N=3) operated as normal, using previously established investigative techniques.
 
Burglary arrest rates—defined as the total number of cases where an offender was arrested, divided by the total number of burglary offenses within the same time frame—were computed for every 6-month period over five years from each police department, including four years before the intervention and one year after.
 
ANCOVA and conditional multivariate regression were used to measure the effects of offender profiles on the burglary arrest rates. The ANCOVA was used to adjust the means of burglary arrest rates to maximize the equivalence between the treatment and control groups. No subgroup analyses were conducted.
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Cost

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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Implementation Information

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Statistically relevant correlations between offending behaviors and offender traits in 405 randomly selected solved burglaries from 2008–2009 were used in the development of the Statistical Patterns of Offending Typology (SPOT). Additional information on the SPOT method, how it was developed, opportunities for use, and the limitations associated with the typology are discussed in detail in Fox and Farrington (2012).
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Fox, Bryana H., and David P. Farrington. 2015. “An Experimental Evaluation on the Utility of Burglary Profiles Applied in Active Police Investigations.” Criminal Justice and Behavior 42(2):156–75. 

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Program Snapshot

Setting (Delivery): Other Community Setting

Program Type: Community and Problem Oriented Policing

Current Program Status: Active

Program Director:
Bryanna Fox
University of South Florida
4202 E. Fowler Avenue
Tampa FL 33620
Phone: 813.974.4885
Email

Training and TA Provider:
Bryanna Fox
University of South Florida
4202 E. Fowler Avenue
Tampa FL 33620
Phone: 813.974.4885
Email