Copycat Crime

How Media, Technology, and Digital Culture Inspire Criminal Behavior and Violence

by Jacqueline B. Helfgott


Copycat crimes have morphed from individual killings by Jack the Ripper a century ago, when the term was coined, to the copycatting of mass murders today.

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Cover image for Copycat Crime

January 2021


Pages 250
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Current Events and Issues/Law and Crime
  • Forthcoming!




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Details the new phenomena of copycat crime inspired by technology and the hyperreality fueled in some people by digital culture and video games.

Across her 25-year career in criminology, author Jacqueline Helfgott has watched with fascination and fear as the world has shifted from a place where one-dimensional televised news each evening and newspapers brought or bought each morning provided the only information on crimes and killings. Now, nonstop, instant global news coverage on 24-hour television and the internet enables people to see and replay not only crime, violence, terrorism, and murder coverage provided by journalists in real time, but also Facebook and YouTube feeds filmed by the criminals themselves while perpetrating the crimes.

In this riveting text about the consequences of our technical, digital, and cultural changes, Helfgott focuses on how these advances are perpetuating this era's new and more massively deadly acts. The book intertwines vignettes from current events, perpetrator statements, police reports, and current research to show how copycat crimes are linked to media, technology, and our digital culture. Concluding with recommendations to reduce the criminogenic effects of media, technology, and digital culture, this book also includes an appendix listing technology and media-influenced copycat crimes.


  • Includes detailed information from research and police reports showing how media and technology influence copycat criminals
  • Examines the ways social media is used as a vehicle for "performance crimes" by perpetrators
  • Explains the effects of instant media coverage that goes global on the Internet
  • Includes a detailed appendix of US copycat and media-inspired crimes
Author Info

Jacqueline B. Helfgott, PhD, is professor and director of the Department of Criminal Justice, Seattle University. She has been researching copycat and media-mediated crimes for two decades. Helfgott also serves on the Seattle Police Department's Crisis Intervention Committee and is a volunteer with Aftermath, a nonprofit organization providing support for victims of psychopathy. She is editor of Criminal Psychology, 4 volumes , coauthor of Offender Reentry: Beyond Crime and Punishment , and author of Criminal Behavior: Theories, Typologies, and Criminal Justice.

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