Where do robbers choose to locate?

Rob thy neighbor appears to be the decision rule for robbers, at least in Chicago. Bernasco, Block and Ruiter, writing in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of Economic Geography, present research on robbers’ choice of crime sites:

“This article analyzes how street robbers decide on where to attack their victims. Using data on nearly 13,000 robberies, on the approximately 18,000 offenders involved in these robberies, and on the nearly 25,000 census blocks in the city of Chicago, we utilize the discrete choice framework to assess which criteria motivate the location decisions of street robbers. We demonstrate that they attack near their own homes, on easily accessible blocks, where legal and illegal cash economies are present, and that these effects spill over to adjacent blocks.”

The graph below (on p. 129 in the paper) illustrates robbers’ tendency to carry out their activities closest to where they live (for reasons why see the paper).

crime location

crime frequency and distance from robber residence

The findings are at once obvious and insightful. The insightful bit is that because of the geographic concentration of crimes and criminals, sometimes it might make more sense from the point of view of authorities to just focus on containing criminal activity within specific neighborhoods, leading to further entrenchment of a culture of crime in those neighborhoods.

If you notice,  in most places – including Nairobi – certain types of crime only get reported when they cross these implicit barriers. Otherwise, crime in bad neighborhoods becomes a case of if a tree falls in the forest.

rioters demand for results

News by Nation confirms that rioting has begun in certain parts of the country as voters continue to demand for release of the results of the presidential vote in the just concluded general elections. Official ECK numbers from 159 constituencies show Raila leading with 3.7 vs Kibaki’s 3.4. This still remains a very close race and could go either way depending on the results coming in from the remaining constituencies.

The remaining areas are spread across the country in both ODM and PNU dominated areas. Meru district, parts of coast, Nyanza and Rift valley have not yet sent results and Kivuitu has expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation.

ODM has over 90 confirmed parliamentary seats. PNU has just over 30. Very worrying trend for the Kibaki campaign team since even if they win they are going to have a really hard time in parliament. ODM on the other hand seems to be itching to celebrate what they consider as an historic victory against an incumbent.

The ECK commissioners are having a meeting to chart the way forward. Kivuitu threatened to exclude the areas that had refused to send results by the time he addressed the press conference at about 11.30 am EAT.

I hope this ends well and that the rioting remains isolated in rural towns and does not spread to more populous towns. This was a clean election and the conclusion ought to be just as clean.