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

Charlotte Gill*, Alese Wooditch, David Weisburd

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess whether the “law of crime concentration at place” applies in a non-urban context. We test whether longitudinal trends in crime concentration, stability, and variability apply in a suburban setting. Methods: We use group-based trajectory analysis to examine 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. Results: Consistent with the law of crime concentration at place, crime in Brooklyn Park is highly concentrated at a small percentage of micro-places. Two percent of street segments produced 50 % of the crime over the study period and 0.4 % of segments produced 25 % of the crime. The patterns of concentration are highly stable over time. However, the concentration of crime is substantially higher and there is much less street-by-street variability in Brooklyn Park compared to urban areas. Conclusions: We find 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 are also important differences in the concentration and variability of crime hot spots in suburbs that require further examination. Our 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.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)519-545
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Quantitative Criminology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is supported by Bureau of Justice Assistance Grant # 2013-DB-BX-0030 to Brooklyn Park Police Department and George Mason University. Points of view in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the U.S. Department of Justice. We are extremely grateful to the Brooklyn Park Police Department, particularly Chief Craig Enevoldsen, Inspector Bill Barritt, crime analyst Jody Murphy, and project coordinator Win Moua for providing the data used in this study and for their commitment and support to our collaboration. We also thank the Special Issue editors and three anonymous peer reviewers whose thoughtful and constructive feedback substantially improved this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Crime and place
  • Evidence-based policing
  • Hot spots
  • Suburban crime
  • Trajectory analysis


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