Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Jun Yan (Director), Dr. David Keeling, Dr. Stuart Foster, Dr. Kevin Carey

Degree Program

Department of Geography and Geology

Degree Type

Master of Science


This study examines geographic patterns and geographic factors of residential burglary at the Nashville, TN area for a twenty year period at five year interval starting in 1988. The purpose of this study is to identify what geographic factors have impacted on residential burglary rates, and if there were changes in the geographic patterns of residential burglary over the study period. Several criminological theories guide this study, with the most prominent being Social Disorganization Theory and Routine Activities Theory. Both of these theories focus on the relationships of place and crime. A number of spatial analysis methods are hence adopted to analyze residential burglary rates at block group level for each of the study year. Spatial autocorrelation approaches, particularly Global and Local Moran's I statistics, are utilized to detect the hotspots of residential burglary. To understand the underlying geographic factors of residential burglary, both OLS and GWR regression analyses are conducted to examine the relationships between residential burglary rates and various geographic factors, such as Percentages of Minorities, Singles, Vacant Housing Units, Renter Occupied Housing Units, and Persons below Poverty Line.

The findings indicate that residential burglaries exhibit clustered patterns by forming various hotspots around the study area, especially in the central city and over time these hotspots tended to move in a northeasterly direction during the study period of 1988-2008. Overall, four of the five geographic factors under examination show positive correlations with the rate of residential burglary at block group level. Percentages of Vacant Housing Units and Persons below Poverty Line (both are indicators of neighbor economic well-being) are the strong indicators of crime, while Percentages of Minorities (ethnic heterogeneity indictor) and Renter Occupied Housing Units (residential turnover indictor) only show modest correlation in a less degree. Counter-intuitively, Percentage of Singles (another indicator of residential turnover) is in fact a deterrent of residential burglary; however, the reason for this deterrence is not entirely clear.


Community-Based Research | Criminology | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Other Social and Behavioral Sciences | Race and Ethnicity | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance | Statistical Methodology | Statistical Models