Offender movement can be explained by the crime pattern theory, devised by professors Paul and Patricia Brantingham. It helps explain where offenders go to commit their crime and how crime locations are well within an offender's activity space. Notable scholars in this area include Gisela, Jerry Ratcliff and Philip Mielke.
- Temporal constraint: an offender's time constraints
- Crime pattern theory: Explains how an offenders movements and crime can be related to their everyday activities.
- Activity space: set of nodes and normal paths between them.
- Awareness space: area within visual range of activity space that contains "opportunity" and triggers.
- Personal nods: Places a person frequently travel to and from. Examples include a person's home, school and workplace.
- Personal paths: Routes we take between our personal nods.
Jerry Ratcliff's article entitled: "A Temporal Constraint Theory to Explain Opportunity-Based Spatial Offending Patterns" shows us that a proportion of offending is driven by the availability of opportunities presented in the routine activities of offenders lives. Gisela Bichler's article entitled: "Examining Juvenile Delinquency within Activity Space: Building a Context for Offender travel Patterns" shows how offender travel patterns usually assume that crime locations are well within the offenders activity space.
Dr. Bichler's research for her article "Examining Juvenile Delinquency within Activity Space: Building a Context for Offender travel Patterns" included information about places visited by 2,563 delinquent youths residing in Southern California. Most of the juveniles were aged 10 through 17 and referred to the program by school officials, parents, and law enforcement for involvement in delinquency and criminal activity. The study examined delinquent as well as non delinquent hangout locations. Each juvenile was given a survey to establish their personal nods and pathways. Locations were classified as being a regional convergence setting (schools, movie theaters, and malls) or a local activity node (fast food outlets, video store, and the primary hangout location when not at home or school). Access to vehicles has been significantly correlated to delinquency (Anderson and Hughes 2009) and distance traveled to crime sites (e.g., Snook 2004; Van Koppen and de Keijser 1997). Of the 2,248 youth with usable information: 28 percent of youth sweat (walk, skateboard,or bicycle to activity nodes); 64.2 percent use vehicles (own car, friend's car, family car); and 7.8 percent use other methods (public transportation or a combination of methods). The results showed youth typically travel between 1.5 and 7.8 miles to key activity nodes. Locations visited more frequently generally were closer to the juvenile's home. Local activity nodes are under two miles from home whereas, convergence settings are substantially farther (2.4 to 7.8 miles). Distances traveled to movie theaters and shopping facilities show greater variability than the other locations. The youth that sweat (walk, ride bicycles, or skateboards) spend more time closer to home but youths with cars visit places much further from home. The older youths traveled further away from home. the median distance traveled to school ("crime trip") fell between typical travel to local hangouts and travel to other convergence settings.
Crime prevention implications
The knowledge from the study can be used to help prevent crime. Natural surveillance is a simple deterrent that anyone can use. It would be helpful to design an area that make it easy for a person to observe the daily activities of others. It makes deviant behavior easier to notice. Controlling access to places with barriers helps prevent crime. Things like doors, shrubs, fences, and gates deny admission and opportunities. Creating a perception among offenders that there is a risk in selecting a target helps. The correct management of an area can reduce crime. Using agents of control and making sure they are noticeably active shows a strong management presence.
- Bichler, Gisela Bichler, Jill Christie-Merrall, and Dale Dale. "Examining Juvenile Delinquency within Activity Space: Building a Context for Offender Travel Patterns." Sage Journals. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency August 2011 Vol. 48 No. 3 472-506, 7 February 2011. Web.
- Felson, Marcus. Crime and Nature. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2006. Print.
- Ratcliff, Jerry H. "A Temporal Constraint Theory to Explain Opportunity-Based Spatial Offending Patterns." Sage Journals. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, August 2006. Web.