One day in October, a woman hears someone banging on her front door. She opens it and sees her neighbor, a 21-year-old man, lying on his back. He pleads, “Call 911, I’m dying.” The ambulance rushes the man to a nearby hospital, but he is dead on arrival. Detectives discover that he had been shot at on two different occasions a few days apart back in July, and briefly hospitalized from the second attack. However, the alleged assassin in those two prior armed assaults was still in jail awaiting trial at the time of the third shooting. (Koehler, 2011)

Researchers looking for clear-cut cases of shared responsibility often focus on individuals who have suffered a series of thefts or attacks.

Offenders seem to set their sights on certain indi- viduals and households more than once during a given period of time. “Repeat victims” are bur- dened twice. Suffering three or more times during a relatively short time span qualifies a person for the dubious distinction of being a “chronic victim.” Having been hurt in the past turns out to be the single best predictor of becoming harmed again in that very same way—or by some other perpetrator or from some other type of offense. Furthermore, the greater the number of prior victimizations, the higher the likelihood will be of trouble in the near future. Revictimization often takes place soon after the initial incident, and then the risks begin to decline as time passes. All these incidents are most likely to break out in very localized high-crime areas, dubbed hot spots. Just as a great many crimes can be traced back to just a few perpetrators, a relatively small number of individuals—termed “hot dots”—often sustain a large proportion of these attacks. If the police can recognize these recurring patterns by applying their knowledge about the suspected offenders, the likely scenes of the crimes, and the probable targets, then they can become effective guardians to head off further trouble (Pease and Laycock, 1996).

Such “series incidents” accounted for about 1 percent of all victimizations and 4 percent of all episodes of violence disclosed to NCVS inter- viewers in 2013 (Truman and Langton, 2014).

Just as criminals have careers in which they offend in various ways over the years, those on the receiving end might also be said to endure “vic- tim careers” over the course of their lifetimes. The career consists of the frequency, duration, and seriousness of the hurtful experiences suffered by a person from childhood until death. The total number of incidents, the date of their onset, their timing (bunching up or spreading out), and the nature of the injuries and losses sustained as they grow older might be gained by interviewing people and asking them to try to recall all their misfortunes retrospectively. Another approach would involve periodically reinterviewing them or an entire birth cohort every few years as part of an ongoing

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longitudinal study. The goal would be to empower these individuals to reduce their risks of future tur- moil, to improve social support programs and police interventions intended to help them, and to further the development of victim-centered the- ories that explain the disproportionate burdens cer- tain persons endure (Farrell et al., 2001).

One implication of this focus on revictimiza- tion and victim careers is that particular individuals might be making the same mistakes over and over again. Maybe they periodically permit their judgment to become clouded by drinking too much, by failing to safeguard their personal property, by allowing themselves to become isolated from bystanders who could intervene in their behalf, or by hanging out with persons known to be armed and dangerous. The most well-documented examples include bank branches suffering holdups frequently, residences being bur- glarized a number of times, cars getting broken into on a regular basis, battered wives getting struck repeatedly, and bullied children being picked on by a series of tormentors. Yet their unfortunate track records may not be entirely their fault, according to crime analysts working on behalf of police departments who look for patterns that may indicate where offenders will strike next and precisely whom they might target. These analysts have come up with two primary reasons to account for repeat victimizations: a boost explanation that focuses on the offender’s abilities, and a flag expla- nation that emphasizes target vulnerability (see Weisel, 2005).

Boost explanations of repeat victimizations point out that career criminals gain important information about the people and places they repeatedly attack based on firsthand knowledge from the successful perpetration of their initial illegal act. They use this inside information to plan their next attack against the same target. Examples of boost explanations would be that burglars learn when a particular home is unoccu- pied or how to circumvent a certain warehouse’s alarm system. Car thieves figure out how to open the door of a specific make and model of car with- out a key. Robbers discover where a storekeeper

hides his cash right before closing time. In con- trast, flag explanations of repeat victimizations are victim-centered. They point out that unusually vulnerable or attractive targets might suffer the depredations of a number of different offenders as opposed to the same criminal over and over. For example, apartments with sliding glass doors are easily broken into, convenience stores that are open around the clock are always accessible to desperate shoplifters and robbers, and taxi drivers and pizza deliverers are particularly easy to rob of the cash they are carrying (Weisel, 2005).

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