The Phenomenology of Specialization of Criminal Suspects
22 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2012
Date Written: August 16, 2012
A criminal career can be either general, with the criminal commiting different types of crime, or specialized, with the criminal commiting a specific type of crime. A central problem in the study of crime specialization is to determine, from the perspective of the criminal, which crimes should be considered similar and which crimes should be considered distinct. We study a large set of Swedish suspects to empirically investigate generalist and specialist behavior in crime. We show that there is a large group of suspects who can be described as generalists. At the same time, we observe a non-trivial pattern of specialization across age and gender of suspects. Women are less prone to commit crimes of certain types, and, for instance, are more prone to specialize in crimes related to fraud. We also find evidence of temporal specialization of suspects. Older persons are more specialized than younger ones, and some crime types are preferentially committed by suspects of different ages.
Keywords: complex systems, social systems, crime, networks
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