PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2022, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (11): 2123-2134.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2022.11.011

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Characteristics and influencing factors of thieves’ travel distance: A comprehensive consideration of residential community, target community, and physical barriers to travel

LI Jiaqi(), SONG Guangwen*(), XIAO Luzi, ZHANG Xuewei   

  1. Center of GeoInformatics for Public Security, School of Geography and Remote Sensing, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou 510006, China
  • Received:2022-03-29 Revised:2022-06-10 Online:2022-11-28 Published:2023-01-28
  • Contact: SONG Guangwen;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(42171218);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41901177);National Natural Science Foundation of China(42001171);Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province(2019A1515011065)


Understanding criminal behavior from the perspective of journey to crime (JTC) is of great significance for that it can help better reveal the mechanism of crime occurrence and crime prediction. However, limited by the access to criminal data, seldom research in China has focused on journey to crime so far. Existing studies mainly discussed the impact of the characteristics of the target community on offender's journey to crime, and few studies comprehensively considered the integrated impact of the residential community, the target community, and physical barriers during the journey to crime. To fill theses gaps, this study applied a multilevel linear regression model based on data of 4119 thief trips in ZG City, one of the bustling metropolises in China, to explore the influencing factors of journey-to-crime distances at the levels of individual layer and target community layer. The results show that: 1) Compared with the target community layer, the individual layer (including factors of personal socioeconomic attributes, crime location selection preference, physical barriers of travel, as well as differences between residential and target communities) has a greater impact on the journey-to-crime distance. The older the offender is, the shorter the distance of their journey to crime will be, while the effect of gender of offenders is not significant. 2) The physical barriers during the journey to crime have a strong explanatory power for the model. The more barriers the offenders have to travel pass, the longer distance of their journey to crime will be. Besides, the barriers will affect the effects of subways, supermarkets, and banks in the target community on the journey-to-crime distance. 3) The difference in facilities between the residential community and the target community has an impact on the journey-to-crime distance. More bus stops, schools, and supermarkets and fewer subway stations in the residential community than those in the target communities will lead to shorter distance of journey to crime. These findings shed some light on the criminal geographic profiling and crime prevention and control.

Key words: journey to crime, thief, physical barriers in criminal travel, individual characteristics, target community