Property Crimes and Violence in United States: An Analysis of the influence of Population density


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Citation of Original Publication

Keith Harries, Property Crimes and Violence in United States: An Analysis of the influence of Population density, International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences Vol 1 Issue.2 (2006),


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The role of population density in the generation or suppression of crime has been the subject of debate for decades. The classic argument is that high density offers opportunities for property crimes, given that it is a surrogate for the distribution of private property, much of which offers attractive targets to thieves. On the other hand, densely populated areas offer natural surveillance that has the effect of inhibiting violent crimes in so far as witnesses are more abundant and events are more likely to be reported to police. In this analysis, property and violent crimes were selected from a database of over 100,000 crimes reported in Baltimore County, Maryland, U.S.A., in the year 2000. Densities of population and of property and violent crimes were calculated for city blocks. Blocks with population densities above the mean of all blocks were then retained for further consideration. Analysis demonstrated that both property and violent crimes were moderately correlated with population density, and these crimes largely affected the same blocks. It was concluded that at the block level of geography, no evidence of a differential between property and violent crimes based on population density could be detected.