Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Cory Schnell

Second Advisor

Robert Kaminsk


The spatial analysis of crime has occurred for nearly two centuries. Within criminology, research interests that have developed from the use of spatial methodologies seek to identify the spatial variability and concentration of crime. The first focus utilizes spatial statistics and mapping to describe and illustrate spatial variability. The second focus uses statistical techniques to describe levels of concentration such as the percentage of crime attributed to a unit. Due to the larger breadth of work and multiple analytical components the former will be the focus of this research.

This multi-study dissertation explores the methods currently used to study the spatial variability of crime, presents a novel method to do so within and between U.S. cities, and demonstrates innovative ways to illustrate it. The first study is a systematic review of the literature on the spatial variability of crime during the last decade (2010- 2019). Using protocols based on a systematic literature review this study reviews the relevant literature and reports on the methods and findings of selected research. Trends were identified that show a lack of cohesiveness across the studies regarding choice of methodology and unit selection. However, an emphasis on using micro-units was observed across the studies. The second study explores the spatial variability of crime within and between U.S. cities. Variance partitioning of multi-level models were estimated to observe the crime variance attributed to each unit of analysis. The majority of the spatial variability of crime can be attributed to micro-units. However, larger spatial units provide greater context within cities and particularly between cities as spatial variability was observed to vary among the examined cities. The third study highlights the importance of crime mapping and explores methods to map the spatial variability of crime. Innovative techniques such as dynamic maps are used to illustrate the adaptability of crime mapping and suggestions are made for their continued use. Overall, this dissertation contributes to the crime and place literature by examining past methodologies, presenting new ones, and incorporating mapping into research on the spatial variability of crime.