The Closure of Police Stations Leads to an Increase in Theft Crime


Sebastian Blesse and André Diegmann

The recent literature on law enforcement activities and police presence shows that the intensity of crime can be influenced by police availability and visibility. This study is one of the first to analyze the effects of police infrastructure on crime occurrence. Attempts to cut back on police infrastructures in the area in favor of supposed efficiency gains can therefore be accompanied by considerable side effects – in the form of an increase in reported property crimes. Thus, the present results can inform policymakers and practitioners about possible unintended side effects of efficiency-oriented restructuring of administrative infrastructures. These should be considered for future plans of an efficient and future-proof reorganization of police structures.

Key Messages

  • Regional access to local police infrastructure matters for crime outcomes
  • Exploiting a police reform, we show that closing police stations increases car theft and residential burglary
  • Our findings are consistent with lower deterrence due to a lower visibility of the local police
  • Police closures lead local private security firms to exit the market, which exacerbates local crime
  • Fewer visible local police stations have severe and unintended consequences which need to be considered by bureaucrats and policy makers pushing for more efficiency in providing public safety

Sebastian Blesse and André Diegmann: “The Closure of Police Stations Leads to an Increase in Theft Crime,” EconPol Forum 24 (2), CESifo, Munich, 2023.