Serial cases: investigating pattern crimes

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Book Chapter

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Turvey, B. E. (2011). Serial cases: investigating pattern crimes. In B. E. Turvey (Ed.), Criminal profiling: An introduction to behavioural evidence analysis (533-568). Oxford, United Kingdom: Academic Press, Elsevier.

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2011 HERDC submission. FoR code: 160201

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Serial crime refers to any series of two or more related crimes (Petherick, 2005, pp. 143-149). Despite the limits set upon us by traditional nomothetic reasoning, this does not necessarily mean two or more related crimes of the same type (i.e., rape, homicide, burglary, stalking, etc.). Unfortunately, many investigators and researchers are stuck in a nomothetic mode--a function of how crime has been studied (chunked into similar groups), as opposed to how criminals actually behave and how crime must consequently be investigated. From a practical standpoint, it is not the type of crime that defines the existence of a series, but the inference that the same offender is committing them. Nomothetic research and study have worked very hard to blind us to the reality that many offenders are not just rapists, not just murderers, not just arsonists, not just stalkers, not just burglars, or not just bank robbers. In fact, many serial offenders (a.k.a. serialists) commit crimes of multiple types in the course of a criminal season or career. Keeping this criminal versatility in mind is one of the steps that can lead to offenders’ identification and apprehension.

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