How 'Digital' is Traditional Crime?

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Measuring how much cybercrime exists is typically done by first defining cybercrime and then quantifying how many cases fit that definition. The drawback is that definitions vary across countries and many cybercrimes are recorded as traditional crimes. An alternative is to keep traditional definitions of crime and quantify the amount of associated information and communication technologies (ICT) that each contains. This research established how much ICT was used a) in the three phases of the ‘crime script’ (i.e. ‘before’, ‘during’ and ‘after’), b)during the criminal investigation and c) in the apprehension of the suspect(s) and d) whether digital crimes differ from traditional crimes in terms of the relationships between the victim and the offender or in terms of the physical distance between them. Residential and commercial burglary, threats and fraud were investigated and 809 incidents from the Police Department of East Netherlands were studied. It was found that ICT does not affect all ypes of crime equally: 16% of the threats and 41% of all frauds have partial digital modus operandi (MO). To commit burglaries, however, offenders hardly ever use ICT. In 2.9% of the residential burglaries, however, bank cards were stolen and later used to steal money from a bank account. For commercial burglary there was no associated ICT. Digital crimes differ from traditional crimes in a number of ways: the geographical distance between the victim and the offender is larger; digital threats occur relatively more often between expartners and digital frauds occur more often between business partners compared to traditional fraud. The study found that physical tools are more often linked to apprehension than digital ones. The regression models, however, showed digital and physical tools to be equally strong at predicting apprehension. The main findings show that ICT plays a greater role in traditional crime than expected on the basis of previous research.
Original languageUndefined
Title of host publicationEuropean Intelligence and Security Informatics Conference, EISIC 2013
Place of PublicationUSA
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)978-0-7695-5062-6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013
EventEuropean intelligence and security informatics conference (EISIC) 2013, August 12-14, Uppsala, Sweden - Uppsala
Duration: 12 Aug 201314 Aug 2013

Publication series

PublisherIEEE Computer Society


ConferenceEuropean intelligence and security informatics conference (EISIC) 2013, August 12-14, Uppsala, Sweden


  • SCS-Cybersecurity
  • DIES-Cyber Security
  • METIS-297328
  • EWI-23423
  • IR-86252

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