The Virtual Burglary Project uses virtual reality (VR) versions of residential neighborhoods to study the behavior of burglars. Convicted burglars are invited to explore a neighborhood, select a target to burglarize, and commit a burglary in VR and to go about it just as they would in the real world. The VR system tracks all their behavior in real time, such as where they look, how they walk around, which target they select, where they enter houses, and how they go about committing a burglary once inside the target. The results of our studies have provided us with an unprecedented level of detail regarding burglary behavior. Currently, capitalizing on the possibility of using experimental research designs with VR, we are testing the effects of different levels of guardianship and signage on the prevention of burglary. Hence, this also illustrates some of the potential of VR research to contribute to crime prevention and to inform policy. While the focus thus far has been on burglary, the VR approaches we have explored to study crime in this project can also be applied to other types of offenses.
Research output: Scientific articles, a conference.
Funding: This research is co-funded by the Dutch Ministry of Justice & Security.