Crime Analysis Essays: A Look at Crime Series- Armed Robbery Incident Data Reporting

By Elizabeth Hall
The job of the Crime Analyst involves the collection and analyzing data for their local, state, and federal jurisdictions, whichever that may be.  The position involves tactical, strategical, and administrative functions of analysis and the individual analyst can be responsible for any one of these categories, or all of these categories depending on the size of the agency they are employed with.  This series of short essays on the subject will deal with tactical analysis of incident reports collected from a local law enforcement office.  The analyst has discovered a crime series dealing with armed robberies of local establishments, and looks deeper at the trend. This crime constitutes a series because the descriptions of suspects, the Modus Operandi, and statements and actions made during the commission of the crimes are all very similar. (Bruce, C.W., Hick, S.R., & Cooper, J.P., 2004)
Chart indicating the number of crimes in time ...
Chart indicating the number of crimes in time and location from the 2004 Uniform Crime Report. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Type of Analysis
According to the International Association of Crime Analysts (2004), there are three types of analysis done by crime analysts, strategical, tactical, and administrative.  Strategical analysis involves trends, problems, and causes, and analyzes data over long periods. Administrative analysis a larger category, that utilizes data for administrative reports, research, and information not related to reducing the crime rate.  Tactical analysis refers to the everyday analysis done from the incident reports of the agency, to determine trends, patterns, and hot spots within the jurisdiction.  The following excerpts deal with the tactical analysis of an armed robbery crime series.  (Bruce, C.W., Hick, S.R., & Cooper, J.P., 2004)

The data is comprised of Call to Service Reports (CSR) that the analyst has, already added, or needs to add to their matrix.  What makes this tactical analysis is that the analyst comprises data in order to help law officers apprehend a particular set of criminals operating within their jurisdiction, committing a particular type of crime.  This is not intended to provide long-term help, or administrative help to the department, rather to enable them to devise tactical plans to aid the apprehension of criminals committing a crime series.  Criminals committing series of crimes grow more confident and are willing to take bigger risks for bigger targets when they are not apprehended quickly.  (Bruce, C.W., Hick, S.R., & Cooper, J.P., 2004)
Does This Constitute a Crime Series
Crime Time
Crime Time (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A crime series is a pattern of crimes committed by the same people or person.  When an analyst is collecting data from their jurisdictional CSR’s notices a pattern in a particular crime over time, they may compare these reports with each other to determine whether there is a common factor between the details of the reports.  In our example, we are looking at three armed robberies.  Because witness descriptions, modus operandi, and statements made by offenders are all similar in nature, along with the same property stolen in each instance, thus indicating that, this is a series of crimes perpetrated by the same offenders.  With only slight variances between crimes, it is easy to deduce that we have a crime series happening in our jurisdiction.  (Bruce, C.W., Hick, S.R., & Cooper, J.P., 2004)
Clues to Offender Identity
In analyzing all three incident reports simultaneously, there are a number of clues given to the identity of the offenders.  We know that we are looking for two male suspects in an early 2000 model Ford Taurus, wearing black hoodie type shirts.  The car has temporary tags. We know that the suspect in the “scream” mask had an accent.  From this information, we can also deduce that the suspect without the accent is a white male, and check the databases for the unique tattoo. Another clue is that one or both offenders smoke Marlboro cigarettes because if they were taking cartons to sell, they would likely take different brands, and more than four cartons in an instance.  (Bruce, C.W., Hick, S.R., & Cooper, J.P., 2004)
Consistent Elements of Modus Operandi
http://openclipart.org/clipart/people/magnifying_glass_01.svg License: PublicDomain Keywords: people Author: AbiClipart Title: Magnifying Glass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In analyzing the three robberies, there are some factors remaining consistent in all instances.  The offender or offenders always brought a gun, which was in plain sight.  In order to calm the victim one of them always advised them not to do anything stupid to avoid physical harm. A “saw” mask is utilized in all three, and the “scream” mask in two in order to hide their identities.  The suspect in the “saw” mask always jumps over the counter and might be the leader.  (Bruce, C.W., Hick, S.R., & Cooper, J.P., 2004)
Differential Elements of Modus Operandi
There were also some differences in the modus operandi of each crime.  In the first robbery, only the suspect in the “saw” mask spoke, however, in the second robbery they both spoke, but the script was essentially the same.  In both the second and third incidences, the criminals have a car, but none is reported at the first crime.  In the first and second crimes, both suspects entered the establishment whereas in the third, one stayed in the car to “keep it running”.  In the third instance, the leader in the “saw” mask resorted to violence when faced with a screaming victim alone. It would seem to be that the partners in crime are evolving during the commission of the series even changing their regular night to commit the crimes.  (Bruce, C.W., Hick, S.R., & Cooper, J.P., 2004)
Work Products Generated
Crimeclock2005-property (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Included in the series report generated to give to the officers, one would include a matrix detailing the three crimes, a map so the officers can visualize the distance between crimes, which in this case is not far.  One would also give detailed information on suspect information including the statements they made and the descriptions that are compiled.  Possible targets would be included, along with any professional opinion about the series.  Any other miscellaneous details would also be included in the report.  (Bruce, C.W., Hick, S.R., & Cooper, J.P., 2004)
     The job of crime analyst is an important function of a successful, efficient law enforcement office.  It is the job of the analyst to gather and analyze data and report on the strategical, administrative, or tactical functions that the data can serve. In the discovery of patterns of crime, the analyst can inform officers of the pattern, and other information discerned from analyzing the data in order to aid the capture of the offender. Crime analysts also advise the administration aiding to effectively manage the budgets of agencies.  They also provide data analysis to aid in the planning of strategic long-term programs and procedures designed to reduce crime in their jurisdictions.  (Bruce, C.W., Hick, S.R., & Cooper, J.P., 2004)

Bruce, C.W., Hick, S.R., & Cooper, J.P. (2004).  Exploring Crime Analysis Reading on Essential             Skills.  International Association of Crime Analysts.  Overland Park, KS.

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