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Northamptonshire criminals 'have own unique areas'

Criminals have their own distinctive "local haunts" when committing crime, researchers have said.

Offenders have specific geographical areas that they favour and these are relatively unique.

The University of Leicester psychologists worked alongside Northamptonshire police.

They found that by identifying the locations, the police were helped in identifying the culprit and apprehending them.

In a recent study into the spatial behaviour of criminals, PhD student Matthew Tonkin and his collaborators found car thieves, burglars and robbers in Northamptonshire tended to commit their offences over relatively small geographical areas.

These "local haunts" were distinctive from one offender or group of offenders to the next.

The findings suggest that, when the police are faced with unsolved crimes, they may be able to identify which crimes are the work of the same person simply by looking at where the offences were committed and the distance between the offence sites.

So, instead of investigating crimes separately, they can group them together and stand a better chance of catching those responsible.

Mr Tonkin said: "The locations of crime aren't just an irrelevant consequence of crime; they can tell us very important information about who is responsible and which crimes are the work of the same person."

Car thefts

"Crucially, however, our study shows that these findings extend across different types of crime, whereas previous work has looked at crimes, such as burglary, robbery and car theft, separately."

The researchers have shown that the "local haunts" favoured by offenders when committing crime are not different depending on the type of crime.

It seems that they commit all of their offences in similar areas whether they are robberies, burglaries or car thefts.

Mr Tonkin said this was a general trend and there were always bound to be exceptions.

Scientific support manager at Northamptonshire Police Dr John Bond, who also collaborated with Mr Tonkin, said: "We are really pleased to be involved in this ground-breaking research".

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