Right place, right time? Making crime pattern theory time-specific

Sabine E.M. van Sleeuwen*, Stijn Ruiter, Wouter Steenbeek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: Crime pattern theory and the related empirical research have remained rather a-temporal, as if the timing of routine activities and crime plays no role. Building on previous geography of crime research, we extend crime pattern theory and propose that an offender’s spatial knowledge acquired during daily routine activities is not equally applicable to all times of day. Methods: We put this extended theory to a first empirical test by applying a discrete spatial choice model to detailed information from the Netherlands on 71 offences committed by 30 offenders collected through a unique online survey instrument. The offenders reported on their most important activity nodes and offence locations over the past year, as well as the specific times they regularly visited these locations. Results: The results show that almost 40% of the offences are committed within the neighbourhoods of offenders’ activity nodes, increasing to 85% when including first-, second- and third-order neighbourhoods. Though not statistically significant in our small sample, the results further suggest that offenders are more likely to commit crime in neighbourhoods they have regularly visited at the same time of day than in neighbourhoods they have regularly visited at different times of day. Conclusion: Our extension of crime pattern theory is only tentatively supported. We argue for replication research with larger samples before any firm conclusions are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalCrime Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2021


  • Crime pattern theory
  • Discrete spatial choice
  • Routine activities
  • Time of day
  • Time-specific Activity Space (TAS) survey


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