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Trajectories of Crime at Places: A Longitudinal Study of Street Segments in the City of Seattle

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 42 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2004 Pages: 283-321
Date Published
May 2004
39 pages

This longitudinal study examined trajectories of crime at places, specifically, street segments in the city of Seattle, WA.


While scholars have provided a strong empirical basis for the assumption that crime is strongly clustered in hot spots, they have so far directed little attention to the question of the distribution of crime at micro places over time. Studies of crime at micro places have generally relied on cross-sectional data and reported the distributions of crime statistics over short periods of time. In this paper official crime data were used to examine the distribution of crime at street segments in Seattle, WA, over a 14-year period. This study went beyond prior research to examine trends at places over a much longer time period and used group-based trajectory analysis to uncover distinctive developmental trends. The study findings confirm prior research showing that crime is tightly clustered in specific places in urban areas. The study also shows that there is a high degree of stability of crime at micro places over time. Stability was found in the vast majority of street segments in the study over 14 years of official data. The trajectories that evidenced decreasing or increasing trends still found a stability of scale with the highest rate segments generally remaining so throughout the observation period. The data also suggest that crime trends at specific segments are central to understanding overall changes in crime. These findings reinforce a public policy approach that would focus crime prevention resources on hot spots of crime. Table, figures, references

Date Published: May 1, 2004