National Archive of Criminal Justice Data

This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Evaluation of the Regional Auto Theft Task (RATT) Force in San Diego County, 1993-1996 (ICPSR 3483) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

The Criminal Justice Research Division of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) received funds from the National Institute of Justice to assist the Regional Auto Theft Task (RATT) force and evaluate the effectiveness of the program. The project involved the development of a computer system to enhance the crime analysis and mapping capabilities of RATT. Following the implementation of the new technology, the effectiveness of task force efforts was evaluated. The primary goal of the research project was to examine the effectiveness of RATT in reducing auto thefts relative to the traditional law enforcement response. In addition, the use of enhanced crime analysis information for targeting RATT investigations was assessed. This project addressed the following research questions: (1) What were the characteristics of vehicle theft rings in San Diego and how were the stolen vehicles and/or parts used, transported, and distributed? (2) What types of vehicles were targeted by vehicle theft rings and what was the modus operandi of suspects? (3) What was the extent of violence involved in motor vehicle theft incidents? (4) What was the relationship between the locations of vehicle thefts and recoveries? (5) How did investigators identify motor vehicle thefts that warranted investigation by the task force? (6) Were the characteristics of motor vehicle theft cases investigated through RATT different than other cases reported throughout the county? (7) What investigative techniques were effective in apprehending and prosecuting suspects involved in major vehicle theft operations? (8) What was the impact of enhanced crime analysis information on targeting decisions? and (9) How could public education be used to reduce the risk of motor vehicle theft? For Part 1 (Auto Theft Tracking Data), data were collected from administrative records to track auto theft cases in San Diego County. The data were used to identify targets of enforcement efforts (e.g., auto theft rings, career auto thieves), techniques or strategies used, the length of investigations, involvement of outside agencies, property recovered, condition of recoveries, and consequences to offenders that resulted from the activities of the investigations. Data were compiled for all 194 cases investigated by RATT in fiscal year 1993 to 1994 (the experimental group) and compared to a random sample of 823 cases investigated through the traditional law enforcement response during the same time period (the comparison group). The research staff also conducted interviews with task force management (Parts 2 and 3, Investigative Operations Committee Initial Interview Data and Investigative Operations Committee Follow-Up Interview Data) and other task force members (Parts 4 and 5, Staff Initial Interview Data and Staff Follow-Up Interview Data) at two time periods to address the following issues: (1) task force goals, (2) targets, (3) methods of identifying targets, (4) differences between RATT strategies and the traditional law enforcement response to auto theft, (5) strategies employed, (6) geographic concentrations of auto theft, (7) factors that enhance or impede investigations, (8) opinions regarding effective approaches, (9) coordination among agencies, (10) suggestions for improving task force operations, (11) characteristics of auto theft rings, (12) training received, (13) resources and information needed, (14) measures of success, and (15) suggestions for public education efforts. Variables in Part 1 include the total number of vehicles and suspects involved in an incident, whether informants were used to solve the case, whether the stolen vehicle was used to buy parts, drugs, or weapons, whether there was a search warrant or an arrest warrant, whether officers used surveillance equipment, addresses of theft and recovery locations, date of theft and recovery, make and model of the stolen car, condition of vehicle when recovered, property recovered, whether an arrest was made, the arresting agency, date of arrest, arrest charges, number and type of charges filed, disposition, conviction charges, number of convictions, and sentence. Demographic variables include the age, sex, and race of the suspect, if known. Variables in Parts 2 and 3 include the goals of RATT, how the program evolved, the role of the IOC, how often the IOC met, the relationship of the IOC and the executive committee, how RATT was unique, why RATT was successful, how RATT could be improved, how RATT was funded, and ways in which auto theft could be reduced. Variables in Parts 4 and 5 include the goals of RATT, sources of information about vehicle thefts, strategies used to solve auto theft cases, location of most vehicle thefts, how motor vehicle thefts were impacted by RATT, impediments to the RATT program, suggestions for improving the program, ways in which auto theft could be reduced, and methods to educate citizens about auto theft. In addition, Part 5 also has variables about the type of officers' training, usefulness of maps and other data, descriptions of auto theft rings in terms of the age, race, and gender of its members, and types of cars stolen by rings.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

DS0:  Study-Level Files
DS1:  Auto Theft Tracking Data - Download All Files (12.5 MB)
DS2:  Investigative Operations Committee Initial Interview Data - Download All Files (1.5 MB)
Data:
DS3:  Investigative Operations Committee Follow-Up Interview Data - Download All Files (1.5 MB)
Data:
DS4:  Staff Initial Interview Data - Download All Files (1.7 MB)
Data:
DS5:  Staff Follow-Up Interview Data - Download All Files (1.7 MB)
Data:

Study Description

Citation

Burke, Cynthia, Darlanne Hoctor Mulmat, Roni Melton, and Susan Pennell. EVALUATION OF THE REGIONAL AUTO THEFT TASK (RATT) FORCE IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY, 1993-1996. ICPSR version. San Diego, CA: San Diego Association of Governments [producer], 2002. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2002. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR03483.v1

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)

Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (94-IJ-CX-0027)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   automobiles, auto theft, crime mapping, crime prevention, criminal investigations, law enforcement, organized crime, program evaluation, stolen vehicles, criminal investigations

Geographic Coverage:   United States, California, San Diego

Time Period:  

  • 1993--1996

Date of Collection:  

  • 1994--1996

Unit of Observation:   Part 1: Case, vehicle, or suspect. Parts 2-5: Individuals.

Universe:   Part 1: All auto theft cases in San Diego County during fiscal year 1993-1994. Parts 2-5: Members of the San Diego Regional Auto Theft Task Force in 1995 and 1996.

Data Types:   administrative records data, and survey data

Data Collection Notes:

The user guide, codebook, and data collection instruments are provided by ICPSR as Portable Document Format (PDF) files. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided on the ICPSR Web site.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   Responding to rising motor vehicle thefts during the late 1980s and early 1990s, officials in the San Diego region formed the Regional Auto Theft Task Force (RATT). RATT was designed as a proactive approach to the investigation, apprehension, and prosecution of auto thieves, particularly those involved in major countywide vehicle theft operations. During the first two years of RATT operation, the fact that data were fragmented along jurisdictional boundaries constrained investigations. There was a need for automated and integrated auto theft information. The Criminal Justice Research Division of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) received funds from the National Institute of Justice to assist RATT and evaluate the effectiveness of the task force. The project involved the development of a computer system to enhance the crime analysis and crime mapping capabilities of RATT. Following the implementation of the new technology, the effectiveness of task force efforts was evaluated. The primary goal of the research project was to examine the effectiveness of RATT in reducing auto thefts relative to the traditional law enforcement response. In addition, the use of enhanced crime analysis information for targeting RATT investigations was assessed. This project addressed the following research questions: (1) What are the characteristics of vehicle theft rings in San Diego and how were the stolen vehicles and/or parts used, transported, and distributed? (2) What types of vehicles were targeted by vehicle theft rings and what was the modus operandi of suspects? (3) What was the extent of violence involved in motor vehicle theft incidents? (4) What was the relationship between the locations of vehicle thefts and recoveries? (5) How did investigators identify motor vehicle thefts that warranted investigation by the task force? (6) Were the characteristics of motor vehicle theft cases investigated through RATT different than other cases reported throughout the county? (7) What investigative techniques were effective in apprehending and prosecuting suspects involved in major vehicle theft operations? (8) What was the impact of enhanced crime analysis information on targeting decisions? and (9) How could public education be used to reduce the risk of motor vehicle theft?

Study Design:   For Part 1 data were collected from administrative records to track auto theft cases in San Diego County. Collection of data prior to the Crime Analysis and Mapping System (CAMS) provided information on the scope of the auto theft problem and related crime patterns in the San Diego region, as well as documentation of the activities and results of RATT investigations in comparison to cases handled with the traditional law enforcement response. RATT investigations focused, according to the program design, on motor vehicle theft suspects involved in major countywide vehicle theft operations, while traditional auto theft detectives responded to all types of auto theft activity throughout their individual jurisdictions. The data were used to identify targets of enforcement efforts (e.g., auto theft rings, career auto thieves), techniques or strategies used, the length of investigations, involvement of outside agencies, property recovered, condition of recoveries, and consequences to offenders which resulted from the activities of the investigations. Data were compiled for all 194 cases investigated by RATT in fiscal year 1993 to 1994 (the experimental group) and compared to a random sample of 823 cases investigated through the traditional law enforcement response during the same time period (the comparison group). The sample for the comparison group was selected from a computer file generated through the Automated Regional Justice Information System (ARJIS), which contained operational countywide information on all crimes reported to law enforcement. To be included in the comparison group, a case had to involve at least one auto theft-related charge, such as auto theft or carjacking, as well as include suspect information. Because the majority of auto thefts reported were never solved, selection of the comparison sample from all auto theft crimes reported to the police would result in a sample with the majority of cases with minimal investigative action. Therefore, the comparison sample was based upon cases with information about at least one suspect. Since RATT cases generally involved extensive investigations, the comparison group was the most comparable group available for examining the impact of RATT. Data were obtained from arrest and investigation reports that provided detailed data regarding sociodemographic characteristics of the suspect, the source of information leading to the initial investigation, strategies used, and law enforcement disposition. Prosecutor and court records were accessed through the District and City Attorneys' automated systems and court case files. The research staff also conducted interviews with task force management (Parts 2 and 3) and other task force members (Parts 4 and 5) at two time periods to address the following issues: (1) task force goals, (2) targets, (3) methods of identifying targets, (4) differences between RATT strategies and the traditional law enforcement response to auto theft, (5) strategies employed, (6) geographic concentrations of auto theft, (7) factors that enhance or impede investigations, (8) opinions regarding effective approaches, (9) coordination among agencies, (10) suggestions for improving task force operations, (11) characteristics of auto theft rings, (12) training received, (13) resources and information needed, (14) measures of success, and (15) suggestions for public education efforts. Initial interviews were completed with nine members of the management group, the Investigative Operations Committee (IOC), during the first quarter of 1995 (Part 2), and follow-up interviews were completed with eight members during the fourth quarter of 1996 (Part 3). Of the eight individuals interviewed at follow-up, three represented new members, three were replacements, and two were the same as the initial interview. In addition, 21 staff members were surveyed in 1995 representing 12 local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies (Part 4). Of the 22 officers interviewed on year later (Part 5), eight had been interviewed previously, ten were replacements, and four were new members.

Sample:   Not applicable.

Data Source:

For Part 1 data were obtained from arrest and investigation reports, which provided detailed data regarding sociodemographic characteristics of the suspect, the source of information leading to the initial investigation, strategies used, and law enforcement disposition. Prosecutor and court records were accessed through the District and City Attorneys' automated systems and court case files. For Parts 2 and 3 interviews were conducted with members of the Investigative Operations Committee. For Parts 4 and 5 interviews were conducted with other members of the RATT task force.

Description of Variables:   Variables in Part 1 include the total number of vehicles and suspects involved in an incident, whether informants were used to solve the case, whether the stolen vehicle was used to buy parts, drugs, or weapons, whether there was a search warrant or an arrest warrant, whether officers used surveillance equipment, addresses of theft and recovery locations, date of theft and recovery, make and model of the stolen car, condition of vehicle when recovered, property recovered, whether an arrest was made, the arresting agency, date of arrest, arrest charges, number and type of charges filed, disposition, conviction charges, number of convictions, and sentence. Demographic variables include the age, sex, and race of the suspect, if known. Variables in Parts 2 and 3 include the goals of RATT, how the program evolved, the role of the IOC, how often the IOC met, the relationship of the IOC and the executive committee, how RATT was unique, why RATT was successful, how RATT could be improved, how RATT was funded, and ways in which auto theft could be reduced. Variables in Parts 4 and 5 include the goals of RATT, sources of information about vehicle thefts, strategies used to solve auto theft cases, location of most vehicle thefts, how motor vehicle thefts were impacted by RATT, impediments to the RATT program, suggestions for improving the program, ways in which auto theft could be reduced, and methods to educate citizens about auto theft. In addition, Part 5 also has variables about the type of officers' training, usefulness of maps and other data, descriptions of auto theft rings in terms of the age, race, and gender of its members, and types of cars stolen by rings.

Response Rates:   Not applicable.

Presence of Common Scales:   Several Likert-type scales were used in Parts 2-5.

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2006-03-30 File UG3483.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2006-03-30 File CQ3483.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

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