Project Information

Kurt Lewin Instituut
Heidelberglaan 1
Room Number H1.42
The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)30 - 253 3027

Project Information

Project Title
"The Virtual Burglary Project"

VU - Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology

PhD Student
Iris van Sintemaartensdijk

Dr. Jan-Willem van Prooijen
Mr. dr. Jean-Louis van Gelder
Prof. Dr. Paul A.M. van Lange

1 August 2016 - 31 July 2020

Ministry of Security and Justice, and the police


The Virtual Burglary Project

Guardianship is the physical or symbolic presence of an individual (or group of individuals) that act (either intentionally or unintentionally) to deter a potential criminal event (Hollis-Peel, Reynald, Bavel, Elffers & Welsh, 2011). An increasing body of research is showing the importance of guardianship in crime prevention and reduction (Reynald, 2010). The influence of guardianship on burglar decision-making however has never been assessed experimentally. A better understanding of the effect of guardianship and encouraging guardianship in individuals can be an important factor in crime reduction.

Using virtual reality simulations, we seek to examine how the sense of guardianship in a neighborhood and in and around a house can be increased by experimentally varying cues that implicitly signal guardianship without any actual individuals being around and how this, in turn, affects burglary. This will be assessed amongst actual incarcerated burglars, as compared with a non-criminal control group. We will also examine how neighborhood residents can most effectively behave as guardians, and how this affects the willingness of offenders to burgle in a neighborhood. Next to this, we will explore how to engage and encourage individuals and groups to actively use these two strategies to prevent burglary.

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