To link or not to link: a test of the case linkage principles using serial car theft data

Matthew Tonkin, Tim D. Grant, John W. Bond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of the present study is to test the case linkage principles of behavioural consistency and behavioural distinctiveness using serial vehicle theft data. Data from 386 solved vehicle thefts committed by 193 offenders were analysed using Jaccard's, regression and Receiver Operating Characteristic analyses to determine whether objectively observable aspects of crime scene behaviour could be used to distinguish crimes committed by the same offender from those committed by different offenders. The findings indicate that spatial behaviour, specifically the distance between theft locations and between dump locations, is a highly consistent and distinctive aspect of vehicle theft behaviour; thus, intercrime and interdump distance represent the most useful aspects of vehicle theft for the purpose of case linkage analysis. The findings have theoretical and practical implications for understanding of criminal behaviour and for the development of decision-support tools to assist police investigation and apprehension of serial vehicle theft offenders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-77
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2008

Bibliographical note

Copyright of Wiley-Blackwell


  • case linkage
  • car crime
  • comparitative case analysis
  • journey to crime
  • serial offenders


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