Study: Drug Use Motivates Women Burglars; Money Motivates Men

Drug use is the main motivation for women who burglarize, while money ranks as the top motivation for male burglars, new UNC Charlotte research has found.

The study, published in the January 2017 Journal of Drug Issues, was led by Criminal Justice and Criminology Professor Joseph B. Kuhns. He and his colleagues noted that while both male and female burglars in the study reported drug use, female burglars “appeared to be more involved in, and possibly motivated by, substance use problems than males.”

The researchers surveyed 422 inmates in North Carolina, Kentucky and Ohio prisons regarding their criminal and drug use histories. Of the respondents, 147 were female. This study is one of the few that interprets data from both male and female burglars. The study offers “important insights into the similarities and differences regarding the relationship between drug use and burglary across gender.”

Understanding burglars’ motivations to commit their crimes can help with developing crime prevention strategies, the researchers say. This data could specifically help in planning drug treatment programs and reintegration programs that include drug abuse counseling. The female burglars surveyed were more likely than the males to believe that access to drug treatment programs would reduce their chances of committing more crimes in the future.

Other important findings regarding gender differences among burglars:

  • Females were more likely to use money obtained from their burglaries for prescription medications – legal and illegal, while males used their money for illegal drugs such as crack cocaine.
  • Female burglars were more likely to commit burglaries on impulse than were males.
  • Males reported a higher number of arrests for burglary than females.
  • Female burglars had more recent and extensive involvement in drug use and reported experimenting with many more drugs than males.
  • Males indicated they were involved in commercial burglary more often than females.

Other authors of the study were Kristie R. Blevins, Eastern Kentucky University; Riane M. Bolin, Radford University; and UNC Charlotte Criminal Justice master’s degree student Josie F. Cambareri. Kuhns has co-authored over a dozen publications with students, including peer reviewed articles, book chapters and technical reports. Cambareri graduated from UNC Charlotte in December 2016. She plans to pursue a doctoral degree in criminology in fall 2017.

Kuhns has been a faculty member at UNC Charlotte since 2003. His research includes the influence of drug and alcohol abuse on violent offending, as well as the impact of community policing and problem oriented policing, and the use of force by and against police officers. He is widely published and has received numerous honors, including the College’s Integration of Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award.

Before coming to UNC Charlotte, Kuhns was a senior policy analyst at the U.S. Department of Justice in the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. He also works directly with police departments, national associations and federal agencies.

Words: Jennifer Howle | Image: Lynn Roberson

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