skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 229349 Find in a Library
Title: Addressing Problems with Traditional Crime Linking Methods Using Receiver Operating Characteristic Analysis
Journal: Legal and Criminological Psychology  Volume:14  Issue:2  Dated:September 2009  Pages:293-310
Author(s): Craig Bennell; Natalie J. Jones; Tamara Melnyk
Date Published: September 2009
Page Count: 18
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: Based on an examination of serial rape data, this article presents arguments in support of the use of receiver-operating-characteristic (ROC) analysis as the best method for determining when crimes are linked in a serial pattern.
Abstract: The arguments focus on the fact that traditional methods of linking crime in determining a serial pattern do not take into account how linking accuracy will vary as a function to the threshold used for determining when two crimes are sufficiently similar to be considered linked. The authors further argue that the solution is to use a method of analysis that can quantify the degree of linking accuracy achieved under any given set of conditions, unbiased by threshold placement. Also, the method of analysis would ideally guide decisions about threshold placement, so as to optimize performance on the linking task. The authors believe that ROC analysis meets these criteria. ROC analysis was originally developed in the field of signal detection, but it is now commonly used to evaluate and improve decisionmaking performance in a variety of diagnostic fields. The authors have previously argued that linkage analysis can be viewed as a signal-detection problem, at least when the linking task involves the consideration of whether a pair of crimes has been committed by the same offender. The goal in the linking task is similar to the goal for any diagnostic task, which is to identify a relatively rare signal (a linked crime) against a background of noise (unlinked crimes). In addition, linking decisions of this type must often be based on ambiguous evidence, such as a high across-crime similarity score that can arise from an examination of both linked and unlinked crimes. Considered for analysis in developing the argument for ROC analysis were 27 crime-scene behaviors exhibited in 126 rapes, which were committed by 42 perpetrators. 2 tables, 2 figures, 35 references, and appended listing of the 27 variables
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Crime patterns; Investigative techniques; Serial arsonists; Serial murders; Serial rapists; Statistical analysis
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.