Solvability Indicators for ‘First Officers’: Targeting Eyewitness Questioning at Non-residential Burglaries

  • Richard Timothy CoupeEmail author


This chapter uses a study of 1008 incidents drawn from a population of 6329 non-residential burglaries. It considers how eyewitnesses with suspect evidence occupying premises close to targets may be identified. It also illustrates the benefits of identifying solvability indicators that enable resources to be targeted at the most promising subsets of incidents, where suspects have been seen and where definite suspect IDs may be obtained by questioning neighbours. The odds of obtaining a definite suspect ID were over seven times higher at in-progress burglaries, and questioning neighbours at these incidents is effective. At ‘routine’ burglaries, not reported while in progress, the odds of a definite suspect ID were ten times higher if there were six or more neighbouring premises with a downstairs view of the burglary target—a reflection of greater proximity to burglary sites. Questioning neighbours at these incidents will also be cost-effective. Even so, the first three or four neighbours to be questioned, normally those closest to the targeted premises, were most likely to provide evidence, with the greatest amount of evidence collected when two to three neighbours were questioned. Identifying solvability indicators for incidents where questioning neighbours results in definite suspect evidence that enables patrol officer resources to be focused on a solvable subset of cases. Evidence on the outcomes of selective targeting of neighbour questioning provides a keener sense of how resources can be best deployed.


Burglary solvability Detection Questioning Eyewitnesses Neighbours Definite suspect ID Patrol officers 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Criminology, University of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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