Linking arson incidents on the basis of crime scene behavior

Pekka Santtila*, Katarina Fritzon, Anna Lena Tamelander

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


The present study investigated the possibility of statistically linking arson cases based on consistency of behaviors from one crime scente to another. Serial and spree arson cases were studied to differentiate underlying themes and to link cases committed by the same offender. The material consisted of 248 arson cases which formed 42 series of arsons. A content analysis using 45 dichotomous variables was carried out and principal compnents (PCA) analysis was performed to identify underlying themes. Summary scores reflecting the themes were calculated. Linking effectiveness was tested with a discriminant analysis using the summary scores. The PCA analysis was successful and underlying themes which were in accordance with previous studies could be identified. Six factors were retained, in the PCA. The linking of the arson cases was possible to a satisfactory level: 33% of the cases could be correctly linked and for over 50% of the cases, the series they actually belonged to was among the ten series identified as most probable on the basis of the linking analysis. From a practical point of view, the results could be used as a basis for developing support systems for police investigations of arson.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


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