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Criminals move between jurisdictions in response to differences in the net returns to crime that depend on the opportunity for crime and the effort to prevent crime. An increase in police protection of a jurisdiction diverts crime to other jurisdictions when only public crime prevention such as police protection is available. However, residents also invest in private prevention (private security, burglar alarms, etc.), and the value of these measures depends on the level of local public protection. In a spatial context, an increase in public prevention of a jurisdiction not only alters the incentives of individuals of the jurisdiction, but also of other jurisdictions as well, and such a change in private crime prevention may end up attracting crime to the jurisdiction. An increase in public prevention of a jurisdiction thus may divert or attract crime. This ambiguous effect stands in contrast with the literature and may appear counterintuitive, but is logical under plausible conditions.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Economics, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182-4485., Email: 2: Department of Economics, West Virginia University, 412 Business and Economics Building, P.O. Box 6025, Morgantown, WV 26506-6025., Email:

Publication date: 2009-12-01

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