Journal of Experimental Criminology

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 373–402 | Cite as

Offender-focused police intervention in residential burglary and theft from vehicle hot spots: a partially blocked randomized control trial

  • Rachel B. Santos
  • Roberto G. Santos



To test an offender-focused police intervention in residential burglary and residential theft from vehicle hot spots and its effect on crime, arrests, and offender recidivism. The intervention was prevention-focused, in which detectives contacted offenders and their families at their homes to discourage criminal activity.


The study was a partially blocked, randomized controlled field experiment in 24 treatment and 24 control hot spots in one suburban city with average crime levels. Negative binomial and ordinary least squares (OLS) regression were used to test the effect of the presence of intervention and its dosage on crime and offender recidivism, and examination of average and standardized treatment effects were conducted.


The analyses of the hot spot impact measures did not reveal significant results to indicate that the treatment had an effect on crime or arrest counts, or on repeat arrests of the targeted or non-targeted offenders living in the hot spots. However, the relationships, while not significant, were in a promising direction.


The collective findings from all four impact measures suggest that the intervention may have had some influence on the targeted offenders, as well as in the treatment hot spots. So, while the experimental results did not show an impact, they are promising. Limitations include large hot spots, the low case number, low base rates, and inadequate impact measures. Suggestions are provided for police agencies and researchers for implementing preventive offender-focused strategies and conducting studies in suburban cities.


Burglary Experiment Hot spots Offender-focused intervention Negative binomial regression RCT Theft from vehicle 



This project was supported by grant no. 2012-DB-BX-0002 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the Office for Victims of Crime. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel B. Santos
    • 1
  • Roberto G. Santos
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Criminal JusticeRadford UniversityRadfordUSA

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