This study examined whether crime prevention interventions that targeted geographic areas where drug and prostitution offenses were concentrated caused offenders to move their criminal activity to nearby areas, thus causing a relocation of crime rather than a significant reduction in crime.
The study found that at least for the market-based crimes that involved drugs and prostitution, crime prevention interventions at targeted sites did not result in offenders moving their criminal activities to other nearby sites. Instead, the crime-control efforts extended to nearby areas. The researchers urge caution in interpreting these findings, however, since arrestee interviews indicated that some offenders developed new methods for continuing their offending in the targeted areas; however, such adaptations often required more complicated methods for eluding detection, which could result in a reduction in the volume of crime. The study was conducted in Jersey City, NJ, in the 1990s. Researchers, in cooperation with police executives looked for sites that consistently showed high levels of criminal activity adjoined by areas that had a contrasting absence of significant amounts of crime. Two sites, one characterized by drug crime problems and the second by prostitution, were selected for intervention. Intensive police interventions were applied to each target site but not to the adjoining neighborhoods where the targeted crimes were relatively low. The effects of the intervention were measured through social observation, which is particularly suitable for the street crimes of drug dealing and prostitution. Also, 47 arrestees were interviewed from the prostitution site and 51 from the drug-crime site. 5 figures, 3 tables, and 86 references