Monday, August 25, 2008

So What's Up With All the Stolen Cars?

We all know that there are certain crime statistics that seem to attract more attentions than others. Homicides, for instance. Or armed muggings, rapes and arsons. In other words, violent crime or significantly destructive property crimes. The other types of crimes--thefts, burglaries, car break-ins and so on tend to get lumped into the general category called "property crimes" and tend to be viewed only in terms of the sum of all the parts, rather than individually. Thus, some interesting trends or spikes in particular property crimes may go unnoticed.

Such is the case with what I can only call a serious uptick in the number of cars reported stolen in the neighborhood. I discovered this little tidbit entirely incidentally, as I was looking up some general crime statistics for various periods of time, and comparing them with other neighborhoods in the District. Because, you know, that's just how I like to spend my time.

Using the very helpful DC Crime Map statistics supplied by the the MPD, I learned that for the period June 25 - August 24, there were 24 autos reported stolen within 1500 feet of a Logan intersection I arbitrarily selected, 13th and R St. (Moving a couple of blocks south, to the Circle itself, the number "drops" to 22.) For the same time period during 2007, the total number of reported stolen autos was three. For the previous two months of 2008, the number reported was 12.

Now, I'm no criminologist, or statistical analyst (for that matter), so I'm not arguing anything other than the fact that 24 autos were reported stolen in Logan during the last two months. Still, it does beg the question: what's going on here?

All other property-related crime seems to be holding right around where it's been, perhaps a bit high. Stolen autos are the only category that has shown an appreciable increase. Is this simply a fluke, and the car thieves just happen to be hitting Logan more than they have in the past? Are there a handful of ne'er-do-wells wrecking havoc and going joyriding in our neighborhood? Did Logan residents suddenly start leaving their doors unlocked and their keys in the ignition?

Regardless, it's always a good idea to follow the MPDs tips on preventing auto theft, and taking common sense actions like leaving nothing in sight in your car or otherwise increasing your car's likelihood of being targeted by thieves. Or, you could simply take my approach: drive a cheap, PoS American sedan that no one in their right mind would care to take the trouble to steal. Remember: suckiness is always a good theft-deterrent.


Anonymous said...

It's probably because the cops clearly don't care at all. When my car was stolen (1995 Integra with well over 100,000 miles on it- not worth much, nothing in sight or in the car at all) and then later turned up completely stripped- all electronics in the car (including 10 year old factory speakers, the switches that make the windows go up and down), the seats, the tires, etc, the cops didn't even bother to take fingerprints. They did NOTHING. Except to tow it to a lot where I had to pay $200 to get it out, where I wasn't able to even see the condition, nor have anyone describe it to me, of the car before paying the $200. I have a suspicion that the police are getting a kickback here- why didn't they just call me to come pick it up???
I later sold the car's remains for $300. It had previously bluebooked around $2000. No, I had no theft insurance. This is an absolute outrage. If the police don't step up here to protect us, what can we do??? I'm at a loss.

Anonymous said...

"If the police don't step up here to protect us, what can we do???"


FourthandEye said...

This is why underground parking was a big deal to me in my condo hunt. Nevermind how unfun it can be circling the streets for parking only to have to settle for a spot 7 blocks from your house. I just don't need the hassle of coming out and finding my car's window bashed in or just altogether stolen. If I had a POS I might have risked it. But I've got a soft top convertible and it was never going to be a matter of IF it would get busted into - only WHEN.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed a lot of car break-ins recently on just one block—10th St. between Rhode Island and P NW. One morning I came out to walk my dog, and I counted five cars that had been hit the night before, the little window in the backseat on the driver's side being smashed on each one. Now, it's not a particularly well-lit block, so that probably helps. But I'd take a stab at it and guess that it's probably the same group of people hitting the same block over and over. My friend, who was visiting from out of town, got his car got broken into on that block. He called the police to report it, but the never showed up. Thanks, MPD. Now whenever I have guests, I always tell them not to park on that block!

Anne said...

We have lived off 14th Street since 1980 so we’ve had cars stolen at least three times from our parking space behind the house. The cars were clunkers to say the least. Ten years ago at neighborhood meetings the police would always recommend that residents invest in “The Club” but I haven’t heard anyone mention it lately. They are pretty inexpensive $30-40 maybe more now. Our cars have been theft-free for a decade

Stealing a car is fast and easy. If the Club is visible over the dashboard it’s likely that anyone looking to steal a car is will move on to another. I’m also told a stick shift makes them move on.