Young burglars love the 'thrill' and rush of adrenaline in their crime, University of Portsmouth study finds

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THRILL-SEEKING young burglars are graduating to become prolific and skilled professional thieves on a wave of adrenaline, a study has found.

Univeristy of Portsmouth academic Dr Claire Nee said her work exploring how emotion drives offending 'could be key to stopping it in its tracks'.

Researchers interviewed 70 burglars after they carried out a simulated raid and detailed their thoughts to academics during a re-enactment.

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One young burglar told interviewers: ‘I loved the thrill of it.’

Dr Claire Nee, Reader in forensic psychology. Picture: Habibur RahmanDr Claire Nee, Reader in forensic psychology. Picture: Habibur Rahman
Dr Claire Nee, Reader in forensic psychology. Picture: Habibur Rahman | JPIMedia Resell

Another said: ‘I licked my first one with my co-d [co-defendant] and I just had so much money and I was thinking, wow, is this what 10 minutes of work is.

‘I ain’t gonna lie, I’ll say I fell in love with it, in the car, I’m thinking, bruv, like, half an hour’s work and I got six grand to split two ways, like, wow, like WOW.’

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Researchers spoke to 33 burglars in adult prisons with an average age of 39, and 37 from young offender institutions, with an average age of 20.

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The study, published in the British Journal of Criminology, found offenders ‘drift' into crime. Financial motivation is an established factor, the study said.

Dr Nee, who led the study, said: ‘It’s important to understand under what circumstances young people make that initial decision to commit a crime, so we can think about intervention.

‘The role of emotion in driving the desire to commit crime is a much neglected area and our research indicates it could be key to stopping it in its tracks.

‘The excitement drives the initial spate of offending, but skill and financial reward quickly take over resulting in habitual offending.

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‘What really struck me about the research is how young offenders can’t identify a clear initial decision to commit a burglary – it’s just part of the ‘flow’ of what they’re doing with their adolescent comrades.’

The thrill dropped off as burglars continued, the study said.

Dr Nee added: ‘It is fascinating to explore the stages of a criminal’s career, so we can see what motivates them at the start, what continues to motivate them, and how we might be able to intervene.’