Crime Location Choice

Wim Bernasco, Stijn Ruiter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionaryAcademicpeer-review


Most behavior of interest to social scientists is choice behavior: actions people commit while they could also have done something else. In geographical and environmental criminology, a new framework has emerged for analyzing individual crime location choice. It is based on the principle of random utility maximization as developed in economics. It integrates the study of spatial crime distributions with journey-to-crime research, and it is used to explain the offender’s choice of where to commit an offense. It allows the analyst to simultaneously assess the role of location attributes and the role of these attributes in relation to offender characteristics, such as their age, ethnicity, gender, criminal experience, and where they live. Initial applications of the model have shown that the decision of where to commit an offense can successfully be described as a function of characteristics of the decision-maker (i.e., the offender), the potential crime target locations, and their interactions, including the distance that separates them. Other applications have established that physical and social barriers inhibit the journey to crime, that railways facilitate the journey to crime, and that offenders are more likely to offend near former anchor points (past homes). New developments in the area of crime location choice include a focus on small spatial units of analysis and the assessment of spatial spillover effects.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice
EditorsGerben Bruinsma, David Weisburd
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4614-5690-2
ISBN (Print)978-1-4614-5689-6
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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