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Keywords:

  • crime places;
  • hot spots;
  • crime drop;
  • trajectory analysis;
  • routine activities;
  • spatial analysis

Studies of crime at micro places have generally relied on cross-sectional data and reported the distributions of crime statistics over short periods of time. In this paper we use official crime data to examine the distribution of crime at street segments in Seattle, Washington, over a 14-year period. We go beyond prior research in two ways. First, we view crime trends at places over a much longer period than other studies that have examined micro places. Second, we use group-based trajectory analysis to uncover distinctive developmental trends in our data. Our findings support the view that micro places generally have stable concentrations of crime events over time. However, we also find that a relatively small proportion of places belong to groups with steeply rising or declining crime trajectories and that these places are primarily responsible for overall city trends in crime. These findings are particularly important given the more general decline in crime rates observed in Seattle and many other American cities in the 1990s. Our study suggests that the crime drop can be understood not as a general process that occurred across the city landscape but one that was generated in a relatively small group of micro places with strong declining crime trajectories over time.