Date of this Version



Grosso, David. 2014. Using GIS to Assess Firearm Thefts, Recoveries and Crimes in Lincoln, Nebraska. MA Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Geography, Under the Supervision of James W. Merchant. Lincoln, Nebraska: June, 2014

Copyright (c) 2014 David A. Grosso


Firearm use in the United States has long been of great concern and at the center of many debates. Most research, however, has either focused on the use of firearms in violent crimes or the availability of firearms compared to the violent crime rates. Few studies have focused on the theft of firearms or the relationships between stolen firearms and crime. Using seven years of data collected Lincoln, Nebraska Police Department, this thesis focuses on the geospatial dimensions of firearm thefts and recoveries. Specific attention is given to the relationship firearm thefts and recoveries have with gun-related crimes, violent crimes, and property crimes. Statistical analyses reveal that firearm thefts and recoveries show clear patterns of clustering. Firearm thefts are significantly related to gun-related crimes and property crimes while firearm recoveries are significantly related to gun-related crimes, violent crimes, and property crimes. Findings also reveal that the majority of firearms reported stolen in Lincoln are acquired by the thief in residential neighborhoods (between 70 and 80 percent). The average theft in Lincoln regardless of gang involvement was 1.9 firearms per theft, which is significantly lower than the average for gang involvement at 6.6 firearms per theft. Subsequent spatial analyses revealed a significant southwest directional movement of firearms stolen in relation to gang activity with a large number of firearms being recovered in Phoenix, Arizona. Statistically significant relationships were discovered to exist between gun-related and property crimes. Moreover, firearm recoveries, unlike thefts, were significantly related to violent crimes in addition to gun-related and property crimes. The results have important policy implications. They suggest that a greater amount of attention should be placed on the theft of firearms and their movement away from Lincoln. They also emphasize that gun owners need to put more effort into properly securing firearms in their residences and vehicles.

Advisor: James W. Merchant