Contrasting crime general and crime specific theory: the case of hot spots of crime

D. Weisburd, L. Maher, L. Sherman, Michael Buerger, Ellen Cohn, Anthony Petrosino

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The data were drawn from the Minneapolis police dispatch system between June 1987 and June 1988. Researchers extracted from the Minneapolis file a series of 52 crime call categories ranging from serious criminal events such as shootings, rapes, and robberies, to relatively minor violations such as theft and disorderly conduct. The final sample consisted of 194,668 events. The findings provide a position between the polar extremes of the debate over crime general versus crime specific theories. Examination of the correlations among crime call occurrences across places challenges the hypothesis that all crimes are linked. The data did not show a correlation between serious offenses and minor offenses. While some crimes were negatively correlated at hot spots, other crime categories were strongly related, for example domestic calls and burglaries of dwellings, and robberies of persons and drunk calls were correlated at hot spots. Contrary to expectations, there were weak correlations at hot spots between morals calls and other calls with the exception of drunk calls, business burglaries, robberies, and assault. Only in the case of theft was there any hot spot in which more than 60 percent of the total crime calls were generated by one crime category, and with the exception of thefts and domestic disturbances, there were few hot spots where even 30 percent of the crime calls could be attributed to a particular crime type. 4 tables, 1 appendix, 8 notes, and 89 references
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationNew directions in criminological theory
EditorsFreda Adler, William S. Laufer
Number of pages26
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1992

Publication series

NameAdvances ion criminological theory


  • DISTRIBUTION (Probability theory)
  • DIGITAL mapping
  • Geographic distribution of crime
  • High crime areas
  • Youth Gangs


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