Preventing repeat and near repeat crime concentrations

Authored by: Graham Farrell , Ken Pease

Handbook of Crime Prevention and Community Safety

Print publication date:  July  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138851054
eBook ISBN: 9781315724393
Adobe ISBN:


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Burp! Crime repeats. This is one of the most important things about crime. Since the first cave dweller stole food – again! – from their neighbour, repeat victimisation has occurred. But why? And how does it inform crime prevention? What do we do to stop it? This chapter answers these questions.

Consider a burglary. The rear door of a household is forced open and cash, jewellery and portable electronics are stolen. Not only is that household now at greater risk of another burglary quite soon, but so too are its neighbours. That is because the burglars literally have inside information. They know how to get in and out. They know the layout. They know the low risk and high payback. Let’s do it again! Or let’s do a similar house nearby.

Consider an online scam. Sending out hundreds of phishing emails brings only a handful of replies. But it was cheap and easy to do. Some of the suckers sent money up front to pay for a bank transfer they will not receive, so I will target them with another scam – try to get their bank details and PIN. I know they are gullible and now know more of their details. And I will target other victims with similar profiles.

Consider terrorism. A military vehicle is blown up by an improvised explosive device near a military base. It is a frequently patrolled road, and IEDs are easy to build. The roads cannot be constantly watched so I will do the same thing again nearby as it is an efficient use of my limited staff and resources. It maximises terror, publicity, and disruption, which is our aim.

These are hypothetical scenarios but they draw on research about why repeat and near repeat victimisation occurs. They show how crimes that might appear random are related. Crime is never random and is always concentrated on certain places, people, or other targets however defined: in fact, it is highly concentrated in every dimension (more on this later). On the plus side, crime’s repetitive nature provides a lot of information about where, when, and how it can be prevented.

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