Behavioural case linkage with solved and unsolved crimes

M. Tonkin, J. Woodhams, Ray Bull, J.W. Bond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Offender behaviour is used to distinguish between crimes committed by the same person (linked crimes) and crimes committed by different people (unlinked crimes) through behavioural case linkage. There is growing evidence to support the use of behavioural case linkage by investigative organisations such as the police, but this research is typically limited to samples of solved crime that do not reflect how this procedure is used in real life. The current paper extends previous research by testing the potential for behavioural case linkage in a sample containing both solved and unsolved crimes. Discrimination accuracy is examined across crime categories (e.g. a crime pair containing a car theft and a residential burglary), across crime types (e.g. a crime pair containing a residential burglary and a commercial burglary), and within crime types (e.g. a crime pair containing two residential burglaries) using the number of kilometres (intercrime distance) and the number of days (temporal proximity) between offences to distinguish between linked and unlinked crimes. The intercrime distance and/or the temporal proximity were able to achieve statistically significant levels of discrimination accuracy across crime categories, across crime types, and within crime types as measured by Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) analysis. This suggests that behavioural case linkage can be used to assist the investigation, detection and prosecution of prolific and versatile serial offenders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-153
Number of pages8
JournalForensic science international
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2012

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