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Predicting and analysing initiator crime environments based on machine learning for improving urban safety

Yoonjae Hwang (Department of Architecture, Sejong University, Seoul, South Korea)
Sungwon Jung (Department of Architecture, Sejong University, Seoul, South Korea)
Eun Joo Park (Department of Architecture, Sungkyunkwan University – Natural Sciences Campus, Suwon, South Korea)


ISSN: 2631-6862

Article publication date: 28 February 2024




Initiator crimes, also known as near-repeat crimes, occur in places with known risk factors and vulnerabilities based on prior crime-related experiences or information. Consequently, the environment in which initiator crimes occur might be different from more general crime environments. This study aimed to analyse the differences between the environments of initiator crimes and general crimes, confirming the need for predicting initiator crimes.


We compared predictive models using data corresponding to initiator crimes and all residential burglaries without considering repetitive crime patterns as dependent variables. Using random forest and gradient boosting, representative ensemble models and predictive models were compared utilising various environmental factor data. Subsequently, we evaluated the performance of each predictive model to derive feature importance and partial dependence based on a highly predictive model.


By analysing environmental factors affecting overall residential burglary and initiator crimes, we observed notable differences in high-importance variables. Further analysis of the partial dependence of total residential burglary and initiator crimes based on these variables revealed distinct impacts on each crime. Moreover, initiator crimes took place in environments consistent with well-known theories in the field of environmental criminology.


Our findings indicate the possibility that results that do not appear through the existing theft crime prediction method will be identified in the initiator crime prediction model. Emphasising the importance of investigating the environments in which initiator crimes occur, this study underscores the potential of artificial intelligence (AI)-based approaches in creating a safe urban environment. By effectively preventing potential crimes, AI-driven prediction of initiator crimes can significantly contribute to enhancing urban safety.



Funding: This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (Grant Number: 2023R1A2C1007071).


Hwang, Y., Jung, S. and Park, E.J. (2024), "Predicting and analysing initiator crime environments based on machine learning for improving urban safety", Archnet-IJAR, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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