Journal of Quantitative Criminology

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 283–304 | Cite as

Target Selection Models with Preference Variation Between Offenders

  • Michael TownsleyEmail author
  • Daniel Birks
  • Stijn Ruiter
  • Wim Bernasco
  • Gentry White
Original Paper



This study explores preference variation in location choice strategies of residential burglars. Applying a model of offender target selection that is grounded in assertions of the routine activity approach, rational choice perspective, crime pattern and social disorganization theories, it seeks to address the as yet untested assumption that crime location choice preferences are the same for all offenders.


Analyzing detected residential burglaries from Brisbane, Australia, we apply a random effects variant of the discrete spatial choice model to estimate preference variation between offenders across six location choice characteristics. Furthermore, in attempting to understand the causes of this variation we estimate how offenders’ spatial target preferences might be affected by where they live and by their age.


Findings of this analysis demonstrate that while in the aggregate the characteristics of location choice are consistent with the findings from previous studies, considerable preference variation is found between offenders.


This research highlights that current understanding of choice outcomes is relatively poor and that existing applications of the discrete spatial choice approach may underestimate preference variation between offenders.


Offender mobility Residential burglary Discrete spatial choice Mixed logit 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Townsley
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniel Birks
    • 1
  • Stijn Ruiter
    • 2
    • 3
  • Wim Bernasco
    • 2
    • 4
  • Gentry White
    • 5
  1. 1.Griffith Criminology InstituteGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR)AmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of SociologyUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Spatial EconomicsVU UniversityAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Science and Engineering FacultyQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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