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Hot Dots in Hot Spots: Examining Repeat Victimization for Residential Burglary in Three Cities, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 1999
170 pages
This study documented the incidence, concentration, and time course of repeat victimization for residential burglary in the cities of Baltimore, MD; Dallas, TX; and San Diego, CA, from 1997 to 1999.
This report first summarizes the literature on repeat victimization, primarily from Great Britain over the last decade. The current study compared the incidence of repeat victimization both citywide and in high-crime areas, the time course for repeat victimization, and the relative impact of a police problem-solving strategy on the incidence of repeat victimization in an experimental area in each of the three cities. A primary objective of the study was to develop a practical method of measuring repeat victimization by using police offense data. The specific address of the burglary offense was used as the unit of analysis, such that the dwelling was defined as the victim rather than the residents themselves. An examination of police offense records in the three cities showed that repeat victimization for residential burglary was substantial, constituting 11.6 percent of reported residential burglaries in single-family dwellings in Baltimore, 10.4 percent in Dallas, and 3.8 percent in San Diego. Repeat burglaries accounted for 15 percent of reported residential burglaries in single-family dwellings in the highest crime areas of Baltimore, 11 percent in Dallas, and 6 percent in San Diego. Repeat victimization in multi-family dwellings in all three cities was substantially higher than in single-family dwellings. Once burglarized, a single-family household in San Diego was about four times more likely to be burglarized again and three times more likely in Baltimore and Dallas. For multi-family dwellings in San Diego, the increased risk for repeat victimization was six times, 19 times as likely in Baltimore, and 28 times as likely in Dallas. Although police problem-solving efforts differed among the three cities, they generally consisted of advising victims about the likelihood of being victimized again within a short time period, providing information on preventing a recurrence, and informing immediate neighbors of the importance of informal surveillance. Reported residential burglaries declined in the experimental areas relative to the comparison areas in Baltimore and San Diego, but offenses increased in Dallas. Further examination of conditions associated with differing burglaries might have contributed to the development of different, more specific, and more effective police responses. The authors advise that these selections of crime and data types constitute a preliminary examination of repeat victimization in the United States, and the findings point to the need for additional research on repeat victimization. Directions for future research are suggested. Still, the current research has shown that the identification and understanding of repeat victimization has great promise for aiding the police in identifying crime patterns and delivering services more effectively to both prevent and reduce targeted crime. 32 tables, 25 figures, 111 references, and appended supplementary data and the Dallas victimization survey

Date Published: December 1, 1999