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Matching crimes using burglars’ modus operandi: A test of three models

Ewart, B.W., Oatley, G. and Burn, K. (2005) Matching crimes using burglars’ modus operandi: A test of three models. International Journal of Police Science and Management, 7 (3). pp. 160-174.

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’Hard’ forensic evidence (eg DNA) may be the best means of linking crimes, but it is often absent at burglary crime scenes. Modus operandi information is always present to some degree, but little is known of its significance in matching burglaries. This paper evaluates the ability of three algorithms to match a target crime to the actual offender within a database of 966 offences. The first (RCPA) uses only MO information, the second (RPAL) only temporal and geographic data and a third (COMBIN) is a combination of the two. A score of one indicates a perfect match between the target crime and the case selected by the algorithm. The lowest possible rank is 965 showing that 965 cases were selected before the target offence. The RPAL and COMBIN each achieve a perfect match for 24 per cent of the crimes and succeed in matching over half of the crimes at a score of 10 or less. For prolific offenders, using MO information alone is better than temporal and geographic data, although the best performance is achieved when in combination. Behavioural, spatial and temporal information is collected by many Police Services. The value and means of utilising such data in linking crimes is clearly demonstrated.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Copyright: © 2005 Vathek Publishing
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