Virtual burglary project

Watching offenders commit crime is an excellent way to increase our knowledge of it, but only rarely possible as police officers, let alone researchers, are rarely on site when offenders strike.

The Virtual Burglary project regards a collaboration between the NSCR, the Network Institute Tech Labs (VU University), and the University of Portsmouth (UK) and involves a virtual environment that can be used to study the behavior of burglars. Specifically, the project aims to learn more about how burglars choose and attack targets, how their behavior varies with levels of expertise, and how it adapts to varieties in risk and reward. Results of the project will help answer fundamental questions related to criminological theory and help develop prevention strategies.

Virtual Reality (VR) provides an excellent platform to increase our understanding of crime and prevention. Its rapid development in recent years has greatly expanded the possibilities for its application in research. Due to the high levels of realism and the possibility of complete experimental control, advanced VR technology has great potential to gain a deeper understanding of criminal decision-making processes.

The Virtual Burglary environment consists of the exterior and interior of a set of adjacent houses and their immediate environment. This environment enables participants to move around the virtual street, select a target, break in, search a house, and finally exit with the stolen goods. It will build on decades of interview research, allowing us for the first time to actually observe the behavior of burglars.

mr. dr. Jean-Louis van Gelder

About mr. dr. Jean-Louis van Gelder

Jean-Louis van Gelder has a degree in Work & Organisational psychology (MA) and another one in Law (LL.M) from the University of Amsterdam. These backgrounds were combined into the doctoral dissertation “The Law and Psychology of Land Tenure Security: Evidence from Buenos Aires” which was also completed at the University of Amsterdam. Since March 2009 he has been working as a researcher at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR). In 2012 he finished his second dissertation on the role of affect and cognition in criminal decision making. His other research interests concern the use of innovative methods in crime research, risk perception and –behaviour, legal theory, socio-legal studies and the informal sector. Jean-Louis van Gelder is initiator and coördinator of NSCR’s CRIME Lab.

Jean-Louis is a member of the CRIME Lab & Technology Cluster.

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