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Cross-Cultural Analysis of Perceptions of Environmental Characteristics in the Target Selection Process for Residential Burglary

NCJ Number
Crime Prevention and Community Safety Volume: 10 Issue: 1 Dated: 2008 Pages: 19-35
Kyung-Hoon Lee; Joong-Yeon Lee
Date Published
17 pages
This article reports on experiments conducted in Korea and the United States that used an animated simulation model of features of a burglar's target selection scenario in order to determine how two samples of college students would select houses for burglary.
The experiments showed that groups in both societies used similar decisionmaking processes about environmental characteristics suitable for residential burglary. Both groups balanced risk and access/opportunity factors in their target selection. Both groups considered risk factors to be relatively more important than access/opportunity factors in their target selection; however, the Korean group tended toward a more balanced consideration of risk and access/opportunity factors. Among the factors that were important for both groups were the block selection stage, the stage of selecting individual dwelling units, and concealment by landscape and building configuration. In the United States, where rates of burglaries using automobiles are relatively high, ease of escape due to proximity to roads, etc., was considered important. In contrast, the Korean group considered ease of escape due to proximity to parks or vacant lots more important. In Korea, most houses are surrounded by high fences. Transparency of the fence, which enables surveillance from neighboring houses or from passersby in the streets, was an important inhibiting factor. Based on a literature review, an animated simulation model was developed to reflect a burglar's search environment. The model was used in experiments with 80 college students in Seoul, Korea, and 40 college students in Wisconsin. Using the animated model, the two groups were guided through a bird's eye view and a ground-level walk-through of a 12-block community, from which they indicated selections of houses for burglaries, along with reasons for their selections. 6 tables, 5 figures, and 19 references