Saturday, January 3, 2009

Dayton as Crimetown: Felony Types 1969/70 & 2007

We can break felonies out into violent crime and property crime (armed robbery is sort of both) and do a comparison between the start and end of the long postwar crime wave.

1969/70 would have been a few years into the wave, which began, nationally, around 1965 or 1966, so what we are looking at here might not have been the peak either nationally or locally. 2007 would have been after the national 1990s drop. The assumption here is that Dayton is mirroring national trends

For the violent crime numbers reported there has been a decrease in nearly every category except for rape, which has really jumped. This might reflect an increase in reporting.

But taking a look at the rates for the felony categories (still the same reported crime divided by population, but here I add a factor to make the numbers read in larger fractions) one can see things not improving that much. Murder is the only crime that is down. All the others are at still at a higher rate than 1969/70, so we are not really down to pre crime-wave levels.

For property crime there is a drastic drop in Commercial Burglary numbers, by far more than the two other forms of theft shown here.

Looking at the rate again, residential burglary is still at a higher rate than 1969/70, but the commercial burglary reduction remains drastic, and the auto theft rate has dropped, too (fewer cars in town?)

One wonders what would account for the commercial burglary drop? Better crime prevention via security gaurds and alarm systems probably helps. But also the collapse of retail, industrial, and commercial activity within the city probably accounts for the drop, too; Dayton is no longer a target-rich environment for this kind of rip off.

Key missing data points are from the era before and during the height of the crime wave. If Dayton trends mirror national statistics the 2007 rates are not really a drop to the postwar lows, but just to, say, somewhere around the midpoint of the ramp up to 1970s/80s crime rate highs.

Presumably Dayton crime rate lows would be in the 1950s and early 1960s, and this might be what old-timers remember when they say Dayton is unsafe. For a younger suburban generation growing up with 30 years or more worth of local media crime reporting the city would have always seemed unsafe.

1 comment:

Bob said...

Be careful with comparing crime statistics from so long ago with current stats. I work in the public safety software industry and you need to be aware that the old statistics were under reported because of the UCR reporting mechanism of the time. Up to the early 2000's DPD reported using UCR. As they did software upgrades to the police reporting system they supported NIBRS which is the new standard and much more detailed. Typically when a jurisdiction switches to NIBRS there is a 30% increase in reported crimes in an urban area. I can go in to more detail but most people don't care......