A framework for estimating crime location choice based on awareness space

Sophie Curtis-Ham*, Wim Bernasco, Oleg N. Medvedev, Devon Polaschek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper extends Crime Pattern Theory, proposing a theoretical framework which aims to explain how offenders’ previous routine activity locations influence their future offence locations. The framework draws on studies of individual level crime location choice and location choice in non-criminal contexts, to identify attributes of prior activities associated with the selection of the location for future crime. We group these attributes into two proposed mechanisms: reliability and relevance. Offenders are more likely to commit crime where they have reliable knowledge that is relevant to the particular crime. The perceived reliability of offenders’ knowledge about a potential crime location is affected by the frequency, recency and duration of their prior activities in that location. Relevance reflects knowledge of a potential crime location’s crime opportunities and is affected by the type of behaviour, type of location and timing of prior activities in that location. We apply the framework to generate testable hypotheses to guide future studies of crime location choice and suggest directions for further theoretical and empirical work. Understanding crime location choice using this framework could also help inform policing investigations and crime prevention strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number23
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalCrime Science
Issue number1
Early online date4 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • Awareness space
  • Crime location choice
  • Crime pattern theory
  • Rational choice theory
  • Routine activity nodes


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