Shocker: Crime happens in bad neighborhoods

If you want to avoid crime, move someplace far away from criminals.

You might consider this common sense, but think about it for a moment. If you were a criminal, wouldn’t you want to work someplace far away, where your victims might be less likely to recognize you?

Police photograph a suspected bank robber.

But then, if criminals were generally intelligent people, this world would be a lot more dangerous than it already is. Now we have some interesting evidence of this.

This report on journalistsresource.org, of a study by researchers at Loyola University of Chicago and the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement, looks closely at how criminals behave. The study covered the years 1996-98, and was confined to the Chicago area, but it’s probably representative of criminals most anywhere.

Robbers tend to strike close to where they live, and they tend to strike in neighborhoods in which they feel more at home. African-American criminals were 1.98 times more likely to target African-American neighborhoods than any other. Hispanics were 3.82 times more likely to rob in an Hispanic block, and white robbers also seemed to prefer victimizing people who looked more like them.

Members of Congress, however, were found likely to victimize people nationwide. (OK, I made that one up.)

Also, the study found that robberies are more likely to occur on streets containing businesses such as bars, clubs, fast food restaurants, hair salons and barbershops, liquor stores, groceries, gas stations, laundromats, pawn shops, and check cashing places. And places where illegal drugs, prostitution and gambling are prevalent also seemed to attract crime.

I know what you’re thinking. We need academic studies to figure that out?

Well, it’s good to have data to support our notions. It helps communities allocate law-enforcement resources and make zoning decisions.

Also, you might want to reconsider when the real estate agent tells you the house you’re looking at is convenient to schools. The study found that proximity to high schools raised the chances of robbery by 1.78 times.

Again, my friends and I could have told you that 40 years ago when we were at North Phoenix High. But now we can back it with data.

(Read the study by clicking here.)

Categories: Crime
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About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.

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