Crime and off-premise alcohol outlets: do characteristics matter?

  • Aleksandra J. SnowdenEmail author
Original Article


Areas with higher off-premise alcohol outlet availability have higher rates of violent, property, and disorder crime. Less is known about the characteristics of off-premise outlets that can explain the alcohol outlets–crime relationship. This study examined the association between off-premise alcohol outlets and crime and identified the characteristics associated with crime occurring in off-premise environs (50-ft buffer around the outlet) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (N = 279). Violent, property, and disorder crime rates were 25, 19, and 17 times higher, respectively, in off-premise environs compared to anywhere else in Milwaukee. The immediate environment characteristics associated with crime in off-premise environs included security bars/gratings on the doors or windows of residential, commercial, and industrial buildings, evidence of people drinking alcohol, painted over graffiti, and foot traffic in front of the outlet. The outlet characteristics associated with crime in off-premise environs included an alley bordering the outlet, security bars/gratings on doors or windows of the outlet, outlet type (i.e., grocery or convenience store), visible garbage or litter inside the outlet, outlet lighting and building condition, and the presence of security guard employees inside the outlet. This study provides practical information for situational crime prevention efforts and local alcohol policy.


Broken windows theory Crime Off-premise alcohol outlets Routine activities theory Systematic social observation 



I thank the graduate student and research observers who contributed to this project, and I thank the anonymous reviewers and the editor for their useful comments and constructive criticism on earlier drafts of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social and Cultural SciencesMarquette UniversityMilwaukeeUSA

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