A Theoretical Analysis of Motor Vehicle Theft "Hot Spots": Incidence, Occurrence, Prevalence and Prevention

Jeff Walsh, CUNY - Graduate Center/John Jay College

This study will examine motor vehicle theft (MVT) "hot spots" from an environmental criminology perspective. Three existing theoretical perspectives from the criminological literature will be relied upon: 1) social disorganization will be useful in assessing and understanding the underlying community characteristics that are conducive for creating MVT hot spots; 2) "Broken windows"/disorder contributes to the understanding by showing the role of a breakdown in community social controls and the implications of physical decay in communities; and 3) routine activities theory sheds light on how motivated offenders and suitable targets intersect in the absence of capable guardians. This study asserts that a theoretical explanation for where and why MVT occurs is available by looking at community characteristics and systemic processes that occur to make areas conducive, even prone to MVT. The findings of this study will help generate policy implications, increase public awareness, and be beneficial in the development and implementation of situational crime prevention strategies.

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Updated 05/20/2006