Charting Car Burglaries in DC

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Crime

Last week someone burglarized our car. Fortunately the burglar didn’t get much, if anything, and a window wasn’t smashed. (Someone left the door unlocked, apparently). But it was a reminder that, even though our Brookland neighborhood is quiet and safe, we’re still vulnerable to property crimes. Then this morning I noticed that a neighbor’s driver-side window had been smashed in a burglary.

Looking at the data, it doesn’t appear that car burglaries are on the rise in our larger neighborhood, Ward 5. Residents here reported 109 car burglaries in January, for example, but only 59 in April. There also doesn’t appear to be a week-to-week uptick in April. I wondered whether the time of year makes car burglaries more likely, so I downloaded six years of major crime data (170,000 incidents of murder, robbery, theft, car theft, arson, sexual abuse, and vehicle burglary) to find out.

This chart shows the six-year trend, by month, in the city for car burglaries. There has been an uptick in recent history during May, it seems. Incidents of the offense have then leveled off before spiking again in the fall:

Our ward has shown a somewhat similar trend:

Data source:

How Many Cops Does Your Local Government Have Per Resident?

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Crime

Does Washington, D.C., have more cops than other cities? That’s the question I asked myself the other day after watching a patrol car drive down our quiet, residential street. I see patrol cars everywhere — much more often than I did previous cities like Houston and Austin.

There’s a reason: Among the top 50 most-populous local governments, D.C. simply has more police officers per resident, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, which surveyed large police forces a few years ago. The city has about 670 cops per 100,000 residents, well ahead of Chicago, which was second with about 472 per 100,000. Houston had about 220, and Dallas had about 260.

Of course, D.C. is the capitol and diplomatic center of the country, and it’s densely populated with pockets of high crime and poverty. So a large officer to resident rate is understandable. But it’s a bit surprising how much D.C.’s ratio eclipses that of other major cities.

This chart shows the cities among the top 50 that have the highest per-resident officer ratio:

Here are the data for all 50 cities plotted on a map made with TileMill. Larger symbols represent higher numbers of officers per 100,000 residents:

See larger, interactive version

Data source: U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics

Mapping LA Fires

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Crime

The Los Angeles Times has released a nifty interactive map and table of the recent arson fires in the City of Angels: 

Since the morn­ing of Dec. 30, a wave of in­ten­tion­al blazes has dam­aged prop­erty and left res­id­ents on edge. The fires range from the West­side to Hol­ly­wood and from the San Fernando Val­ley south to Len­nox. Nine more fires were re­por­ted Monday morn­ing. Of­fi­cials have not con­firmed wheth­er some re­por­ted fires are re­lated to the ar­son spree. The Times will up­date this map as more de­tails be­come avail­able.

I like how the fires are categorized by type — and that the Times’ data desk added a handy timeline to help readers visualize when the fires were set: 

Mapping Violent Crime, Murder Rates with FBI Data

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Crime

The FBI today released its mid-year crime figures from large cities around the county, and the data are positive, NPR reports: 

The number of violent crimes reported by 12,500 U.S. law enforcement agencies fell 6.4 percent in the first half of this year compared to the same time in 2010, the FBI reports.

Using the federal data, which covers Jan. to June of this year, I plotted the figures on maps using proportional symbols. This first map shows the violent crime rate (bubble size increases with higher rates) by city.

While large cities like New York, Houston and Los Angeles have more violent crimes, visualizing the rate shows us cities in which residents are more likely to be victims. The rate in St. Louis, Mo., tops all cities with more than 100,000 residents. (The top 10 are labeled on the map). 

The second map plots the murder rate, with New Orleans leading all U.S. cities with more than 100,000 residents. (The top 10 are labeled on the map). 

Larger versions: Violent crime | Murder