Based on Cohen and Felson’s 1979 routine activity theory, this study examines crime rates on prominent U.S. holidays. Little research exists that analyzes crime patterns on holidays, despite the mass disruption of routine activities. Using data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), this study compares the average daily number of offenses per state on 15 holidays with the average daily number of offenses per state on non-holiday weekdays for the 2016 calendar year. The crimes under investigation are economically motivated crimes: burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and robbery. Holidays are divided into groups for analysis based on where activities are generally pursued by the public on each day: private space, public space, and mixed space. The results reveal a distinct pattern in crime rates on holidays: economically motivated crimes tend to occur less frequently on holidays, regardless of space classification. Despite an increased potential for contact between suitable targets and motivated offenders on mixed and public space holidays, an increase in guardianship may be a primary cause of lower economic crime rates on holidays. It is also possible that the increase in residence-based activities on private and mixed space holidays reduces the number of suitable targets.
Lam, Wyatt. 2020. "Christmas Criminals: A Routine Activity Approach to Crime on U.S. Holidays." James Madison Undergraduate Research Journal 7(1). Retrieved Month Day, Year (http://commons.lib.jmu.edu/jmurj/vol7/iss1/5).