Rise in Car Break-Ins Concentrated in Dupont, Logan

by Borderstan.com January 19, 2012 at 11:00 am 1,600 0

"Borderstan" "Broken in Car"

An increase in thefts from autos drove up the overall crime rate in 2010 in the Borderstan area.  The largest increases for this type of crime were in Dupont-Logan. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Cody Telep. Follow him on Twitter @codywt, email him at [email protected].

Crime was up in Borderstan in 2011, but that increase was driven largely by an almost 50% increase in thefts from cars (2011 Borderstan Crime: More Thefts from Auto Drive Crime Rate Up). A closer look at the theft from auto stats from 2010 and 2011 suggests that this jump in thefts was concentrated in only certain parts of Borderstan.

The table below shows thefts from auto divided by Police Service Area (PSA). Using the old PSA boundaries that were in effect until the end of 2011, Borderstan covers parts of PSA 305 (U Street), 307 (Logan), 208 (Dupont) and a small part of 308 (Convention Center). While thefts from auto increased across all of the PSAs, the magnitude of the increases varied a good deal. The number of thefts from auto was similar from 2010 to 2011 in PSA 305, but showed major increases in PSAs 208 (up 91.3%) and 307 (up 54.5%). (PSA 308 also shows a large percentage change, but this is based on small numbers). These data only reflect the portions of each PSA that fall in the Borderstan coverage area.

Thefts from Auto by PSA




% Change





















We can see these changes reflected when we examine the “hottest” street blocks for thefts from auto. In 2010, these blocks were concentrated in PSA 305 in the U Street corridor. For example, the 1300 block of T Street NW had 12 thefts from auto, while the 1400 block of U Street NW and the 1400 block of V Street NW each had nine.

In 2011, we see some changes in the blocks with the highest number of thefts, reflecting the change in the distribution of thefts from auto across Borderstan. The 1600 block of O Street NW led the way with 15 thefts from auto, followed by the 1700 block of P Street NW and the 900 block of L Street NW with 14 each, and the 1500 block of Church Street NW with 13.

On a brighter note, while thefts from auto were up across Borderstan, the number of stolen cars dropped across all the PSAs in Borderstan from 2010 to 2011. The biggest drop came in PSA 305, which had 28 fewer stolen autos in 2011 than 2010.

Stolen Autos by PSA




% Change





















What can help explain these changes? Whatever the reason, these changes seem to be following recent citywide trends in stolen vehicles and thefts from auto. Analyses by the D.C. Crime Policy Institute (DCPI) showed declines in auto theft between 2005 and 2009 and increases in thefts from auto in the same time period (see the DCPI briefs on motor vehicle theft and theft from auto).

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) points out that thefts from motor vehicles are a crime of opportunity (see Thefts from Auto), and so it could be the case that the rise is a result of car owners providing more opportunities for potential offenders by leaving small electronics (e.g. GPS devices) and other valuables in plain sight in their vehicles. DC police offer a number of tips to avoid having your car targeted, including keeping valuables out of sight and placing all items in the trunk or a locked glove compartment.

The most likely explanation for the decline in stolen vehicles is that new cars are increasingly difficult to steal because of alarms and engine immobilizers. For example, analyses by the National Insurance Crime Bureau show that all of the 10 most frequently stolen cars nationwide in 2010 were models from 2004 or earlier.

The drop in stolen cars might also help explain the increase in thefts. Potential car thieves may be able to get into the car, but unable to start it, so they may turn to stealing the car’s contents. As MPD recommends, the best advice is to not leave anything valuable in your car in plain sight.


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