We thank Peter van der Heijden, Galen Irwin, and three anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier drafts of this article.
DESISTING DISTANCE DECAY: ON THE AGGREGATION OF INDIVIDUAL CRIME TRIPS*
Article first published online: 7 MAR 2006
Volume 35, Issue 3, pages 505–515, August 1997
How to Cite
VAN KOPPEN, P. J. and DE KEIJSER, J. W. (1997), DESISTING DISTANCE DECAY: ON THE AGGREGATION OF INDIVIDUAL CRIME TRIPS. Criminology, 35: 505–515. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.1997.tb01227.x
- Issue published online: 7 MAR 2006
- Article first published online: 7 MAR 2006
The distance-decay function suggests a spatial pattern of criminal activity whereby most crimes are committed nearer rather than farther from the criminals' own homes. Presumably, the farther away the target, the lower the chances of crimes. The reason usually offered for this general pattern is an individual one: The costs to the criminal in terms of time, energy, and money increases with distance. We contend that it may be misleading to draw inferences about individuals from the aggregated decay function because it conceals individual variations in ranges of operation. This argument is supported by data randomly generated by the computer that show that even when individual criminals increase their crime rate with increasing distance, a distance-decay function still emerges at the aggregate level. This is not to say that an individual-level distance-decay function does not exist, only that it must be demonstrated by data at the individual level because distance-decay effects can characterize aggregate behavior even in the absence of individual distance decay.