PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2020, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (4): 602-613.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2020.04.007

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Spatial travel behavior of criminals with different individual characteristics

HOU Chao1, CHEN Peng1,2,*(), ZENG Zhaolong1, SHI Shaochong1, YUAN Penghui1, SHEN Bing1   

  1. 1. Information Technology and Cyber Security Academy, People's Public Security University of China, Beijing 102600, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Security Prevention Technology and Risk Assessment of the Ministry of Public Security, Beijing 102600, China
  • Received:2019-03-13 Revised:2019-07-26 Online:2020-04-28 Published:2020-06-28
  • Contact: CHEN Peng
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of Beijing(9192022);National Engineering Laboratory Director Fund for Social Security Risk Perception and Prevention and Control of Large Data Applications;Subject of Fundamental Research Business Fees of People's Public Security University of China(2018JKF228);Top Talents Training Specialized Subsidy for Scientific Research and Innovation Projects of Master's Graduates of People's Public Security of China in 2019(2019ssky002)


The spatial travel behavior of criminals plays an important role in describing and understanding the journey to crime process of criminals. Current studies focus on the statistics of travel distance of criminals, lacking studies on refined individualization of spatial travel behavior under different individual characteristics of criminals. Using theft cases of electric bicycles in Beijing region, an empirical analysis was conducted in this study to explore the spatial distribution of the criminals' travel distance under different individual characteristics. The results show that individual differences that affect travel distance distribution primarily concern gender, age, origin, and frequency of crimes attributes. Among them, the crime travel distance of male criminals is higher than that of female criminals, but their spatial buffer radius is closer than that of female criminals. Middle-aged criminals have larger crime travel distance and spatial buffer radius than juvenile and elderly criminals. The crime travel distance and spatial buffer zone of alien criminals are farther than that of local criminals. The crime offenders who commit multiple crimes have higher travel distance and spatial buffer distance than those who commit fewer crimes. Finally, this study constructed a decision model of spatial travel of criminals from travel cost, risk perception of neighborhood guardianship, and profit on the basis of the least effort principle and rational choice theory, and explained the difference of spatial travel behavior of criminals under the influence of different individual characteristics. The conclusions can provide effective support for crime prediction and policing practice.

Key words: journey to crime, criminal, individual characteristics, rational choice theory