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Conceptualization and Measurement of Citizens' Crime Prevention Behaviors

NCJ Number
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency Volume: 17 Issue: 2 Dated: (July 1980) Pages: 254-272
Date Published
19 pages
This paper discusses what citizens do to lessen the likelihood and impact of becoming crime victims, and reopens the question of how best to conceptualize and measure these behaviors.
No original data were collected; instead, four survey data sets in the Reactions to Crime (RTC) Archives in Northwestern University's Center for Urban Affairs were analyzed. Each survey included subsets of questions about various crime prevention behaviors among citizens. In Kansas City, Mo., data were gathered via personal interviews and random samples of survey data from 1,200 respondents from 15 police beats located in the South Patrol District. In Portland, data were gathered via inperson interviews, and a stratified random sample of 3,916 respondents drawn largely from the burglary reduction program's target area. The Hartford survey used a stratified-random sample of 556 respondents and inperson interviews, while the Reactions to Crime (RTC) survey gathered data by a random-digit dialing technique for 1,620 respondents in Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco. Each set of items in each survey was individually submitted to a factor analysis and reliability check. Present results suggest that is is unnecessary to treat all of citizens' crime prevention measures as separate dependent variables. Multiple-item indexes or scales reduce data effectively and can provide a more stable measure of a construct than a single item can. Finally, public policy should become more congruent with an empirically based understanding of citizen behaviors. Footnotes, tables, and 24 references are provided. (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 1980