Crime and Perceptions
My fellow blogger over at Off Seventh responded to my previous post about crime statistics by asking about our neighboring PSA 307 (basically the Logan Circle area between L and S and 9th and 15th). [PSA 308 is bounded by 9th and NJ and by NY and S/Florida]. So I downloaded the stats for 307 for the same date range: Feb. 1- May 19, and what I found may surprise you.
First of all, there were more than twice as many crimes reported in 307 as in 308: 248 vs. 106. Here are the numbers:
Crime PSA307 PSA308
ADW 14 7
Burglary 38 10
Homicide 1 0
Robbery 23 18
Stolen cars 15 22
Theft 65 19
Theft from auto 92 28
Sex Abuse 0 2
Total 248 106
Clearly the biggest difference is in the “theft” and “theft from auto” categories. I suspect this stems from the fact that 307 has many more restaurants, bars, etc. that attract non-residents who may be less careful about keeping valuables out of sight in their cars and also that there are more commercial establishments that may be attractive to thieves.
But even allowing for that, in the violent crimes category, Logan (PSA307) actually appears worse than Shaw (PSA308), when you look at the numbers. This, by the way, isn’t just a fluke; I had previously looked at the data from last year, which showed similar results.
The odd thing is that if you asked a random set of residents which area is “safer”, I’d bet that most people would say Logan. So why is that?
Here are my theories (in no particular order):
- Random gunfire and drive-by shootings. There are, unfortunately, way too many of these in Shaw, and most of it doesn’t show up in the crime stats. You don’t often hear about this kind of stuff in Logan nowadays. Having shootings in public areas—often in broad daylight, sometimes in sight of police—creates a lot of anxiety because who knows when some stray bullet might find you?
- Known gang activity and visible drug dealing. By now most people are aware that the shootings are almost entirely linked to beefs between local gangs, and we see the graffiti evidence of their presence on walls, sidewalks, and trees all over the area. Also, I’d wager that most Shaw residents could point out addresses where they know or suspect that drugs are being dealt on a regular basis. The drug activity is probably true in Logan as well (I just don’t know how prevalent it is), but you don’t hear much about gangs in that area.
- General appearance. By now, Logan is pretty thoroughly tarted up—Shaw a lot less so. There are many more derelict properties, more trash in the streets—just the sort of things that can create a subliminal sense of apprehension.
- Racial perceptions. Logan is whiter, and—let’s be frank here—many people associate white neighborhoods with being “safe.” Never mind that black people don’t like crime any more than white people do.
But in reality, are you actually more at risk from crime in Shaw than in Logan? Is it possible that it’s really just the opposite?