Street gangs are like lions and bees, commit crimes in predictable places
A new paper from UCLA anthropologist P. Jeffrey Brantingham, employs a mathematical model related to hunting to map street gang territory. From UCLA:
“The way gangs break up their neighborhoods into unique territories is a lot like the way lions or honey bees break up space,” said lead author P. Jeffrey Brantingham, a professor of anthropology at UCLA.
Taking police records, the researchers mapped activity from 13 gangs in Boyle Heights, a neighborhood just east of Los Angeles. They discovered most crimes occurred not in the middle of gang territory, but near borders:
When crime locations did deviate from the borders, they did so in a configuration that was consistent with the model. For instance, the theory predicted that 58.8 percent of the crimes would occur within one-fifth of a mile of the border between two gangs — or just under two blocks — and 87.5 percent within two-fifths of a mile of the border — or just over three blocks. Overall, 99.8 percent of crimes could be expected to occur within one mile of the border, according to the theory.
In fact, the team found that 58.2 percent occurred within two blocks of the border and 83.1 percent within just over three blocks of the border; in total, 97.7 percent of the crimes took place within one mile of the border between gangs.
”You would think that we’re more complicated than other animals, so a model this simplistic shouldn’t work, but I was surprised that it fit as well as it did,” said co-author Martin B. Short, an assistant adjunct professor of mathematics at UCLA.
I’ve noticed the same patterns when I watch Gangland marathons.
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