Using citizen notification to interrupt near-repeat residential burglary patterns: the micro-level near-repeat experiment

  • Elizabeth GroffEmail author
  • Travis Taniguchi



Test the efficacy of swift resident notification for preventing subsequent burglaries within near-repeat high-risk zones (NR-HRZ).


The experiment was conducted in Baltimore County, Maryland and Redlands, California. As residential burglaries came to the attention of the police, a trickle randomization process was used to assign each micro-level NR-HRZ (measured 800 ft, 244 m from the burglary location) and associated buffer (400 ft, 122 m) to treatment or control. Treatment was performed by uniform agency volunteers and consisted of swift notification to residents in the area of increased risk of burglary victimization. Treatment and control zones were compared for differences in the mean count of residential burglary using independent samples t tests. Two surveys were administered to gauge the impact of the program: one targeted residents and one targeted at the treatment providers.


There was limited evidence that the treatment reduced follow-on burglaries. The effectiveness of the intervention varied depending on the post-intervention time period being considered. The results of the community survey suggested that: (1) the most frequent crime prevention actions taken by residents were relatively low-cost and low-effort and (2) notification did not increase resident fear of burglary. The treatment provider survey found that the program was effective at increasing the level of engagement between volunteers and the agency and had positive impacts on community perception.


This research demonstrated that law enforcement volunteers can be used to undertake programs that have positive impacts on police-community relations. Limitations included low near-repeat counts, delays in discovering/reporting burglary, and staffing constraints.


Micro-level Near repeat Residential burglary Resident notification Resident survey Treatment provider survey 



This research could not have been completed without the support of the Police Foundation and the Baltimore County, Maryland and City of Redlands, California Police Departments. At the Police Foundation, Dr. Karen Amendola, who served as Project Director and Maria Valdovinos who coordinated the citizen survey mail outs and assisted with other tasks. There are too many practitioners to mention all by name but several were indispensable. In Baltimore County, Major Mark Warren, Lt. Chris Kelly, Captain Matthew (Mac) McElwee and Mike Leedy (Crime Analyst) and in Redlands, Chief Chris Catren and Tom Resh (GIS Coordinator) made sure we had the support we needed. The authors would also like to recognize the comments provided by Robert Boruch and their Advisory Board (Kate Bowers, Shane Johnson, Jerry Ratcliffe, and David Weisburd) related to the design and conduct of the experiment. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice. Any errors are our own.


This project was supported by Award No. 2012-IJ-CX-0039, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice to the Police Foundation.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminal JusticeTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Policing Research ProgramRTI InternationalResearch Triangle ParkUSA

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