Sex Offender Mobility: An Application of Crime Pattern Theory Among Child Sex Offenders

Sex Abuse. 2018 Dec;30(8):908-931. doi: 10.1177/1079063217712219. Epub 2017 Jun 2.


Sex offenders are a heterogeneous group and exhibit various offense patterns. Often the location where the offender committed the offense is different from where the offender encountered their victim. Applying crime pattern theory, this study sought to understand if the type of location, victim, and situational characteristics could predict whether an offender would commit the sexual offense in a different and more secluded location than where he first encountered the victim. Among a sample of 114 incarcerated sex offenders, the results showed that offenders who contacted their victims in locations where children are known to congregate were more than 4 times more likely to travel to a more secluded location to complete the sexual offense. Those who used noncoercive strategies (e.g., bribes, seduction) during the offense process were approximately 7 times more likely to travel to a more secluded location that those who did not. Policy implications of the findings are discussed.

Keywords: child sexual abuse; sex offender mobility; sex offender policy.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual*
  • Crime*
  • Criminals*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Assessment / methods