U Street: February Crime Up From 2010

by Borderstan.com March 27, 2011 at 3:15 pm 1,165 7 Comments

MPD, PSA 305, U Street NW crime, Borderstan

Click to enlarge: PSA 305 had 22 violent crimes in February 2011 compared to 11 in February 2010. (MPD Crime Database)

The number of crimes in Police Service Area (PSA) 305 last month more than doubled from February 2010 and was close to rates seen in 2008 and 2009 for the same month. There were 92 crimes in 305 compared to 44 the previous February.

The increase was in both property crimes and violent crimes. There were 22 violent crimes in the PSA 305 compared to 11 in February 2010, and the number of property crimes soared to 70 last month from 33 in February 2010.

As one reader points out in the comments, some of this is due to the Snowpocalypse effect of last year. However, there is also evidence that after substantial drops in 2010 that levels of property crime are returning to levels of previous years (please see links in the comments below plus today’s story in The Washington Post on increased property crime in D.C.)

PSA 305 covers the U Street NW area as well as the Howard University area to the northeast. All numbers are from the MPD Crime Database. Check Borderstan’s Local Resources Page for links to information on police and crime data.

Trend: In February 2008, there were 111 crimes in PSA 305 (14 violent crimes)… in January 2009 there were 100 crimes (17 violent crimes)… in February 2010 there were 44 crimes (11 violent crimes)… and in February 2011 there were 92 crimes (22 violent crimes). After a dip in 2010, rates appear to be returning to previous levels.

Specific Crimes in PSA 305

    • Robberies were up. There were 15 robberies in PSA 305 in February (four with guns) compared to seven in February 2010 (four with guns).
MPD, PSA 305, U Street NW crime, Borderstan

Click to enlarge: PSA 305 had 37 thefts from autos in February 2011 compared to 20 in February 2010. (MPD Crime Database)

  • There were four assaults last month, the same as February 2010.
  • Gun crimes (all crimes committed with a gun) were up. There five two last month compared to four in February 2010.
  • Burglaries were up. There were five burglaries last month in PSA 305, compared to one in February 2010.
  • Thefts more than doubled. Thefts increased from 10 in February 2010 to 22 last month.
  • Thefts from autos were up. “Smash and grabs” increased noticeably in PSA 305. There were 37 last month compared to 20 in February 2010.
  • More cars were stolen. The number of stolen autos increased from two in February 2010 to six last month.

PSA 305 Crime Stats for February

Police Service Area 305

Year Total Crimes Violent Crimes Property Crimes Gun Crimes Homicides
Feb. 2011 92 22 70 5 0
Feb. 2010 44 11 33 4 0
Feb. 2009 100 17 83 6 1
Feb. 2008 111 14 97 5 0
Source: MPD Crime Database
  • Total Crimes are Violent and Property Crimes combined.
  • Violent crimes are homicides, sex abuse, robbery excluding gun, robbery with gun, assault with dangerous weapon excluding gun and assault with dangerous weapon with gun.
  • Property crimes are burglary, theft, theft from auto, stolen auto and arson.
  • Gun Crimes are robberies and assaults committed with a gun. Gun crimes are counted here in Violent Crimes.
  • Homicides are counted as part of Violent Crimes and were most likely committed with guns.
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  • Bogus! Your own numbers tell the true story:
    Property crimes — 2008, 97; 2009, 83, 2010, 33; 2011, 70. What’s obvious is that February 2010 was an anomalously low count. The 2011 count is actually lower than the counts for 2008 and 2009. So, where’s this frightening increase in crime?

    Fact is, February 2010 was marked by two enormous snowstorms. And guess what, when people are stuck in their homes because the snow is so deep, crime drops, the criminals also being stuck. That’s why February 2010 was an extraordinarily low crime rate month, and any comparison to it is totally misleading.


  • No, there’s no increase in property crime. Check out my analysis:

    There was an abrupt drop in the winter of 2010. That’s all. Now rates are back to normal. That’s not “rising” crime. That’s crime returning to normal levels, after a drop that is most likely due to the harsh weather of winter, 2010.

    There’s just no good reason for yet another Post report trying to scare people away from the District, and in particular, away from the inner city. Crime exists, sure. But it’s not much different from what it’s been for the past decade, and it’s certainly not “rising”.

  • Here’s a better display of the property crime data in DC, showing that the Post’s conclusion was based on taking a record low crime count as a basis, comparing a current value that is still lower than average, and calling that an “alarming” crime rise. If that’s “alarming”, we don’t belong in the District, much less in the inner city.


  • Lee in Logan

    @Jack Really can’t believe you actually wrote “..crime returning to normal levels”. What is normal about holding a gun to someone and demanding their belongings?! You are seriously messed up. Who’s side are you on dude?

  • You’ve got to do better than comparing this-month-this-year to this-month-last-year, and taking that to represent real trends in crime rates. Crime counts are noisy statistics to begin with, and go up and down with weather, among other things.

    Better to look at many months of data, to try to discern trends:

    Robbery rates in 305 are constant. Burglary is showing a decline. Theft from auto, a bit lower than in the past. Auto theft, declining significantly (due to improved auto theft deterrent features on newer cars).

    Comparing February 2011 to February 2010, a month characterized by two heavy snowstorms, tells you nothing, except that such bad weather deters crime, by keeping both criminals and victims indoors.

  • Here are two charts, illustrating the profoundly misleading impression that the Post gave you, causing your shocked reaction: “my mouth literally dropped,” etc.

    Chart 1: property crimes in 305, first three months of 2010 and 2011:


    Look at that and it sure looks like a huge “surge” in crime. But look at the data since 2006:


    Now you see the truth: 2010 was an exceptionally low-crime period (Snowmageddon), 2011 is a normal year, not much different from 2009, lower than 2008.

    Looking at just two data points — this year vs. last year — and ignoring all others leads to seriously erroneous interpretations. There is no crime wave under way in PSA 305, and the Post is misleading the public, and you, with their absurd claim that property crime is “surging” in DC.


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