, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 197-214

The effect of temporary residences on burglary: A test of criminal opportunity theory

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Abstract

Previous work testing the criminal opportunity/routine activities theory of burglary has been marked by three recurrent problems: (1) a neglect of testing the theory in rural areas (2) the use of indicators which confound opportunity with disorganization effects (3) failure to control for alternative theories of burglary. The present paper contributes to the literature by correcting these shortcomings. The results of a multiple regression analysis of county level data from Michigan indicate that the greater the criminal opportunity, the greater the rate of burglary. These results are independent of indicators taken from economic strain and social disorganization theories. The model explains 69% of the variance in burglary rates overall and 84% of the variance in rural counties. While there may be higher levels of social cohesion and lower anonymity in rural areas, these factors are not sufficient to offset the influence of criminal opportunity.