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Testing the "Law of Crime Concentration at Place" in a Suburban Setting: Implications for Research and Practice

NCJ Number
Journal of Quantitative Criminology Volume: 33 Issue: 3 Dated: September 2017 Pages: 519-545
Charlotte Gill; Alese Wooditch; David Weisburd
Date Published
September 2017
27 pages
In order to examine whether the "law of crime concentration at place" applies in a non-urban context, this study tested whether longitudinal trends in crime concentration, stability, and variability applied in a suburban setting.
The study used group-based trajectory analysis in examining trends in recorded crime incidents on street segments in Brooklyn Park, a suburban city outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, over a 15-year period from 2000 to 2014. Consistent with the law of crime concentration at place, crime in Brooklyn Park was highly concentrated at a small percentage of micro-places. Two percent of street segments produced 50 percent of the crime over the study period and 0.4 percent of segments produced 25 percent of the crime. The patterns of concentration were highly stable over time; however, the concentration of crime was substantially higher and there was much less street-by-street variability in Brooklyn Park compared to urban areas. Thus, this study found strong support for the application of the law of crime concentration at place to a non-urban setting, suggesting that place-based policing approaches tested in cities can also be applied to suburbs; however, there were also important differences in the concentration and variability of crime hot spots in suburbs that require further examination. This study is based on a single setting that may not be representative of other suburban and rural areas. Finally, the clustering of hot spots raises questions about the use of street segments to analyze crime at suburban micro-places. (Publisher abstract modified)