Choosing Street Crime

Richard Wright and Volkan Topalli

in The Oxford Handbook of Criminological Theory

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199747238
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Choosing Street Crime

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  • Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Theories of Crime
  • Violent Crime



People who commit burglary, robbery, carjacking, and other serious predatory street crimes are disproportionately young, poor, and male. Notwithstanding the strong link between these demographic characteristics and street crime, not all young, poor, males commit street crimes and not all street criminals are young, poor, or male. No one can tell based on demographic information on criminals why an individual who has no intention of committing a crime one minute suddenly is determined to do so the next. This article describes the socio-emotional context underlying street criminals' decision to move from an unmotivated state to a motivated one. It also examines why someone chooses to commit a particular type of street crime over other possible licit or illicit courses of action. The article concludes by assessing the implications of its findings for criminological theory and criminal justice policy.

Keywords: street crimes; street criminals; criminological theory; criminal justice; robbery; burglary; carjacking; demographic characteristics

Article.  7066 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Theories of Crime ; Violent Crime

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