Identifier

etd-10142009-154753

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Geography and Anthropology

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

A criminal geographic profile is a tool used by law enforcement professionals for estimating the probable location of a serial offender’s anchor point, or domicile. This estimate is constructed according to the distribution of linked crime scenes. While this approach can utilize a number of different modeling techniques, most fail to account for the inherent irregularities of the physical and cultural landscape. Contemporary methodologies have consistently adopted the a priori assumption that an offender’s crime scenes and anchor point are located across an isotropic surface on which the opportunity to offend is equally distributed around the offender’s residence. Simple introspection clearly reveals that this assumption is unrealistic. Landscapes are comprised of heterogeneous collections of physical and cultural features that, by their very nature, bias the location of human activities and the occurrence of phenomena. Accordingly, this research examines four alternative techniques for geographically profiling offender behavior in space using models that are capable of accounting for the intrinsic irregularities present within the surrounding landscapes. The first technique examines the efficacy of functional distance metrics for interpreting an offender's perceptions of travel cost. The second method estimates the serial offender's anchor point by modeling the spatial variability observed for the linked crime scenes using a dynamic standard deviational ellipse. The next method extends the premise of a non-uniform landscape by introducing land cover characteristics within a probability distribution strategy. Finally, a land cover enhanced profiling technique is proposed using an empirical Bayesian formulation. Comparative analyses of the four enhanced techniques validate the premise that landscapes impart a deterministic impact on a serial offender's behavior in space. Consequently, these factors can be incorporated within various analytical frameworks to produce an accurate and precise estimate of an offender's anchor point.

Date

2009

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Student has submitted appropriate documentation to restrict access to LSU for 365 days after which the document will be released for worldwide access.

Committee Chair

Leitner, Michael

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