Relative Difference and Burglary Location: Can Ecological Characteristics of a Burglar’s Home Neighborhood Predict Offense Location?

Alyssa Chamberlain, Lyndsay N. Boggess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Objectives: Neighborhood characteristics predict burglary targets, but target attractiveness may be colored by the conditions in which a potential offender resides. We test whether relative differences in concentrated disadvantage, racial/ethnic composition, and ethnic heterogeneity influence where burglars offend, controlling for distance. From a relative deprivation perspective, economically advantaged areas make more attractive targets to burglars residing in disadvantage neighborhoods, but a social disorganization perspective predicts areas lower in social cohesion are most attractive, which may be neighborhoods with greater disadvantage. Methods: Drawing upon a unique sample of cleared burglaries in the City of Tampa, Florida from 2000 to 2012, we utilize discrete choice modeling to predict burglar offense destination. Results: Offenders target neighborhoods that are geographically proximate or ecologically similar to their own. When accounting for relative differences, burglars from all neighborhood types are more likely to target highly disadvantaged or heterogeneous neighborhoods. Conclusions: Burglars generally select targets that are similar to their residence. However, when suspects do discriminate, there is evidence that they target neighborhoods that are worse off relative to their own on characteristics such as residential instability, disadvantage, racial composition, and racial/ethnic diversity. These neighborhoods are associated with lower social control and lower risk of detection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)872-906
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • burglary
  • discrete choice
  • journey to crime
  • neighborhoods and crime
  • relative deprivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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