GOLDEN, Colo., Sept. 17, 2013 – Amanda Hering, Colorado School of Mines assistant professor of applied mathematics and statistics, was recently published in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society for her research on serial crime offenders. Criminal analysis teams could use the techniques she developed to study criminal behavior and possibly prevent future crimes from occurring.
Hering collaborated with Sean Bair, president of BAIR Analytics, an analytical software and service company focused on public safety, to discuss the shortage of critical research on crime and serial offenders in the U.S. Hering and Bair received a grant from Northrop Grumman to aid their research in 2011.
Hering and Bair’s studies were primarily focused on crimes committed by the same individual, investigating the spatial and chronological choices that serial offenders made with respect to the locations that all crimes of a given type occur within a city.
“I was drawn to this topic mainly because it was interesting, like something you would see on a TV show. I was also interested in working on a project that could make a positive impact,” Hering said.
Within the crime community, Hering said it is generally thought that serial offenders group their crimes closely in space. Hering and Bair suspected this was not always the case, and demonstrated that while serial burglars do tend to spatially cluster their crimes, robbers usually do not.
“Burglaries take place in empty homes where no one is present to witness the burglar; whereas robbers usually attempt to conceal their appearance since they must enter some establishment and interact with people to complete their crime,” she said.
They adapted standard spatial methods to assess the expected behavior of each offender.
“If the offender is choosing locations within a small area, then the offender may continue such a pattern. However, if an offender is spreading his crimes in a pattern that is consistent with random choice, he may choose an entirely new location or eventually loop back around to one of his prior locations,” she said.
In August 2013, their research, “Characterizing spatial and chronological target selection of serial offenders” was published in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Their paper can be viewed on the Wiley Online Library’s website.
Hering has already followed up this study by writing another paper on serial crimes, this one with Mines statistics Ph.D. student Karen Kazor. It has been accepted in Stat and will be available to the public shortly.
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu