We present a novel exploratory application of unsupervised machine-learning methods to identify clusters of specific crime problems from unstructured modus operandi free-text data within a single administrative crime classification. To illustrate our proposed approach, we analyse police recorded free-text narrative descriptions of residential burglaries occurring over a two-year period in a major metropolitan area of the UK. Results of our analyses demonstrate that topic modelling algorithms are capable of clustering substantively different burglary problems without prior knowledge of such groupings. Subsequently, we describe a prototype dashboard that allows replication of our analytical workflow and could be applied to support operational decision making in the identification of specific crime problems. This approach to grouping distinct types of offences within existing offence categories, we argue, has the potential to support crime analysts in proactively analysing large volumes of modus operandi free-text data – with the ultimate aims of developing a greater understanding of crime problems and supporting the design of tailored crime reduction interventions.