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Natural Surveillance Characteristics of Building Openings and Relationship to Residential Burglary

NCJ Number
Applied Geography Volume: 102 Dated: January 2019 Pages: 99-108
Date Published
January 2019
10 pages
This study developed an objective three-dimensional method for better specifying the concept of natural surveillance and its application to the study of crime, specifically residential burglary.

An observational study that used mixed methods was conducted to quantify natural surveillance at the micro-scale of building openings through the use of georeferenced data and geospatial technologies. Natural surveillance was bifurcated into occupant and road surveillability to represent, respectively, surveillability by residents and surveillability by strangers along streets. Higher occupant surveillability was associated with decreased odds of burglary commission. In contrast, higher road surveillability was associated with increased odds of burglary commission. This study demonstrated the importance of natural surveillance in relationship to residential burglaries. The findings have implications for environmental design and planning policies and potential reductions in crime. This study also demonstrated techniques that law enforcement can employ to leverage societal investments in geospatial data to benefit public safety. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019