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Did you know that the contextual characteristics of thefts are different when the victims are residents or tourists?

May 2023

There is no doubt that tourism is one of the most profitable industries. Official data reported in 2021 showed that the Travel & Tourism sector contributed 10.4 % to the world’s global GDP. However, tourism has social consequences, such as crime. Researchers have repeatedly documented the association between crime and tourism over the last decades. Regarding the victim’s characteristics, females, as well as young people or the elderly, are often at higher risk of being victimized during vacations. Concerning the location, hotels or parking lots are places where tourists have a higher risk of theft. However, there is little comparative evidence regarding the case victimization profile between tourists and residents. How do tourist and residents’ case profiles differ? What contexts are riskier for tourists than for residents?

ISS researcher Alexander Trinidad and Nerea Marteache (California State University, San Bernadino) examined the characteristics of police-recorded theft events against tourists in Barcelona (Spain). The study used a unique dataset where police recorded the tourist and residents’ status of theft victims. The authors applied the Conjunctive Analysis of Case Configurations to a large data sample to shed light on theft victim profiles and contextual factors. In addition, they proposed an adaptation of this analytical strategy for use with large samples, which represents a relevant methodological innovation.

The results showed the concentration of some case profiles, i.e. specific characteristics of the theft events, happened more frequently than expected. Specifically, the analysis revealed that the case profiles most likely to result in a tourist being the victim of theft have predominantly female, young targets (under 34 years old) and occur mostly at restaurants/ bars and during the Summer. On the contrary, the least frequent theft victimization profiles among tourists were in retail establishments and older victims (+ 65 years old).