The impact that natural disasters have on crime is still little known. In general, it is assumed that crime declines shortly after the disaster and slowly increases to pre-disaster levels over time. However, this assumption is not always confirmed by the few empirical studies that have been conducted to date. In this paper we analyze the impacts that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita had on the temporal and spatial distribution of reported crimes in the city of Houston, TX. Crime data were collected before, during, and after the landfall of both hurricanes. The modeling part of this paper focused on spatial, temporal, and spatio-temporal models, at both global and local scales. The results show that while Hurricane Katrina did not have any apparent impact on crime, Hurricane Rita led to a significant short-term increase in burglaries and auto thefts. Spatial analysis indicated that the increase in burglaries was mostly concentrated in African American and, to a lesser degree, in Hispanic neighborhoods. There is some indication that the mandatory evacuation order that was issued prior to the arrival of Hurricane Rita motivated crime “prone ” individuals, who did not follow the evacuation order, to burglarize unprotected residences of individuals, who evacuated. No mandatory evacuation order was issued for Hurricane Katrina. 1
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