This study examines the effect of the number of crimes and topographical detail on police officer predictions of serial burglars’ home locations. Officers are given 36 maps depicting three, five, or seven crime sites and topographical or no topographical details. They are asked to predict, by marking an X on the map, where they thought each burglar lived. After making their predictions on half of the maps, officers randomly receive either no training or training in one of two simple decision-making strategies. The accuracy of predictions at baseline and retest is measured as the distance between the predicted and actual home locations, and these accuracy scores are compared to a commonly used geographic profiling system. Results show that training significantly improved predictive accuracy, regardless of the number of crime locations or topographical detail presented. In addition, trained participants are as accurate as the geographic profiling system.
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Criminal Justice and Behavior, 34 (1), 2007, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2007 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Criminal Justice and Behavior page: http://cjb.sagepub.com/ on SAGE Journals Online: http://online.sagepub.com/