When you hear the term “serial crime”, immediately your mind thinks of “serial killers”. The reality is that serial crime means any type of crime occurring in a pattern that indicates a single offender. However, there has been some debate as to whether or not a habitual offender or a career criminal should be defined as a serial criminal. Forensic scientists, law enforcement, and criminologists have suggested that only serial murder, serial rape, and serial arson constitute a serial crime.
I feel that a serial crime is a serial crime, no matter what the offense. To make everyone working in the criminal justice system happy, you could divide serial crime in two categories: violent and non-violent or crimes against persons or property crimes. All crimes are important and should be solved or linked to other crimes if at all possible. When you’re looking at the evidence from a crime scene that entails the physical forensic evidence, behavioral evidence, and victimology, you conduct the investigation in a way to find the most logical offender. There is a distinct pattern of behavior that will emerge on these types of cases. Hopefully, an objective profile will emerge and the investigation will take a positive direction that will lead to an arrest – no matter what type of crime.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics revealed that in 2009 violent crime decreased by 6.1% and property crime decreased by 5.5%. Interestingly, the closure or clearance rate of crimes has dipped a bit in the statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice. The clearance rate for murder is 66%, rape 41%, and burglary 12%.
I’ve stressed in previous blog articles that criminal profiling is an essential tool in conducting investigations. It shouldn’t just be used for serial murder cases. It would be highly effective in rape and burglary cases. Rape, assault, and burglary have extremely low clearance rates. When an unknown assailant commits these types of crimes, the percentage of the case being solved drops even more, most likely to zero.
Police departments would benefit by objective, behavioral criminal profiling for most unsolved cases. It would assist them in linking cases and finding common clues that would lead to an arrest. This of course, is my opinion about serial crime, but one that I feel is worthy of more discussion in the future.