Policy makers often try to optimize local law enforcement by reorganizing police forces. We study the effects of police reallocation via station closures on municipal crime by exploiting a quasi-experiment where a centrally administered reform substantially reduced the number of police stations. Combining a matching strategy with an event-study design, we do not find aggregate effects on crime. Instead, we find changes in the way theft is committed. We observe increases in car theft, apartment and basement burglary but less bicycle theft. We argue that station closures provide an opportunity for criminals to shift from low-value to high-value theft.
Crime Deterrence Police Centralization Efficiency of Law Enforcement