Where Do Dealers Solicit Customers and Sell Them Drugs? A Micro-Level Multiple Method Study

W. Bernasco, S. Jacques

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


According to a rational choice theory of crime location choice, offenders commit crimes at locations where the mix of expected rewards and costs is optimal. The present study applied this general theory to a very specific crime—illicit drug dealing in an open air drug market—and tested it in the Red Light District and its neighboring area in downtown Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Data were collected in interviews with 50 dealers of illicit drugs and through systematic observations of the 262 street segments in the study area. It was expected that dealers prefer locations where expected earnings relative to invested time and effort is high and where the risk of apprehension is low. The quantitative findings seem to confirm that dealers go to places where the likelihood of successfully soliciting customers is high, but no evidence is found that they avoid places with informal or formal social control. Qualitative data collected in the same interviews reveal that dealers view social control as a nuisance and risk that can be evaded. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings for criminological theory and research methods.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-408
JournalJournal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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