Hot spots of juvenile crime: A longitudinal study of arrest incidents at street segments in Seattle, Washington

David Weisburd*, Nancy A. Morris, Elizabeth R. Groff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

206 Scopus citations


Recent studies have shown that crime is concentrated at micro level units of geography defined as hot spots. Despite this growing evidence of the concentration of crime at place, studies to date have dealt primarily with adult crime or have failed to distinguish between adult and juvenile offenses. In this paper, we identify crime incidents in which a juvenile was arrested at street segments in Seattle, Washington, over a 14-year period, to assess the extent to which officially recorded juvenile crime is concentrated at hot spots. Using group-based trajectory analysis, we also assess the stability and variability of crime at street segments over the period of the study. Our findings suggest that officially recorded juvenile crime is strongly concentrated. Indeed, just 86 street segments in Seattle include one-third of crime incidents in which a juvenile was arrested during the study period. While we do observe variability over time in trajectories identified in the study, we also find that high rate juvenile crime street segments remain relatively stable across the 14 years examined. Finally, confirming the importance of routine activity theory in understanding the concentration of juvenile crime in hot spots, we find a strong connection between high rate trajectory groups and places likely to be a part of juvenile activity spaces. Though place-based crime prevention has not been a major focus of delinquency prevention, our work suggests that it may be an area with great promise.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)443-467
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Quantitative Criminology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This research was supported via subcontract by grant 2001-JN-JX-K001 from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (US Department of Justice) to the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology, University of Pennsylvania. Points of view in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the US Department of Justice. We would like to thank John Eck, Josh Hinkle, Chris Koper, Cynthia Lum, Lorraine Mazerolle, Daniel Nagin, Alex Piquero, Jeff Roth, Cody Telep and Sue-Ming Yang for their thoughtful suggestions on earlier drafts of this manuscript. We want to express our gratitude for the cooperation of the Seattle Police Department, and especially to Chief Gil Kerlikowske for his interest and support of our work.


  • Crime hot spots
  • Juvenile activity spaces
  • Juvenile crime


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