The Race Between Deterrence and Displacement: Theory and Evidence from Bank Robberies
41 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2017 Last revised: 16 Sep 2019
Date Written: September 14, 2019
Security measures intended to deter crime may unwittingly displace it to neighboring areas, but evidence of displacement is scarce. We exploit precise information on the timing and locations of all bank robberies and security guard hirings and firings in Italy over a 10-year period to estimate the deterrence and displacement effects of guards. We find that hiring a security guard lowers the likelihood that a bank is robbed by 35-40 percent, though over half of this reduction is immediately displaced to nearby banks that are unguarded. A simple theoretical model of displacement reveals ambiguity in policies to mitigate these spillovers. Our findings suggest that policies that restrict the use of guards in sparse, rural markets and that require the use of guards in dense, urban markets could be socially beneficial.
Keywords: deterrence, displacement, spillover, policing, bank security guards
JEL Classification: K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation