West Seattle Crime Watch: Stats out for 1st part of 2009

Seattle Police have gone public with the city’s crime stats for the first four months of this year. The overview is the same as what we’ve heard in West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meetings and other venues all year – violent crimes down, nonviolent crimes up, to summarize. Here’s the Southwest Precinct report; an excerpt from its intro:

… Southwest Precinct is posting an increase in Major Crimes for the first four months of 2009 when compared with the same period in 2008. Unlike the other precincts, however, the overall crime rise is being driven more by increases in Property Crimes than by Violent Crimes. Among Property Crimes, both burglaries and larceny/thefts are up, compared to a year ago. Southwest Precinct is also the only precinct posting an increase in vehicle thefts.

The burglary increase, compared to the same period of 2008, is dramatic – 231 in the Southwest Precinct area (which includes South Park as well as West Seattle) last year, jumping to 344 this year – up almost 50 percent. The vehicle-theft increase mentioned above is not as dramatic — 121 this year, 115 last. Here’s the page with links to all precincts’ reports, if you’re interested in comparing – the population and acreage of the precincts varies, of course, so you can’t really compare 1-to-1.

17 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Stats out for 1st part of 2009"

  • marco June 1, 2009 (5:58 pm)

    Yikes! And we just found a note at our door in High Point titled “3rd Burglary Alert – This is the third Burglary on your block!”

  • WSB June 1, 2009 (6:04 pm)

    Do you have a Block Watch? That’s what notes like that are supposed to be drumming up interest for …

  • KT June 1, 2009 (6:11 pm)

    What’s the burglary clearance rate?

  • Michael June 1, 2009 (6:48 pm)

    Such an increase is likely the work of just a few “serial” thieves, right? If so, we might be able to look forward to a decrease next quarter.

  • Michael June 1, 2009 (6:55 pm)

    Answering my own question:

    Surveillance video of a break-in at a senior center was provided to the local media. The suspects were identified and subsequently linked to over 130 burglaries throughout the region. Three arrests have been made in these cases.

    There’s a significant dent in your increase in just one bust. :)

  • WSB June 1, 2009 (7:05 pm)

    Unfortunately most of those were NOT in Seattle – I covered that story (actually was first to report the link to the WS SCtr, I believe … talked to the Snohomish County detective at an inconvenient time while touring a green house in High Point) — and the majority of them were elsewhere in Puget Sound – but it was a very big bust. Appeared originally in the Everett newspaper as a dinky little brief – TR

  • bridge to somewhere June 1, 2009 (7:12 pm)

    you know, these stats may run counter to the oft-heard refrain with police attending community meetings that the downturn in the economy doesn’t have any impact on crime, for (to paraphrase) “the guy getting laid-off from microsoft isn’t likely to break into your house.” several months ago that seemed like a sensible claim and a bit of a relief, but now it just seems like a bit of a frabrication or at least an overly hopeful outlook . . .

  • David Quigg June 1, 2009 (7:34 pm)

    Because of changes in precinct boundaries, we can’t get a solid sense of long-term crime trends. According to SPD, “It is also important to note that crimes are now being recorded by BEAT rather than by CENSUS TRACTS, as in previous years. This is another reason that 2008 crime statistics for precincts cannot be directly compared to years past.”

    SPD explains more here …


    It begs a question: Regardless of what data is being made public, can it really be true that these boundary changes mean SPD itself has no mechanism for tracking long-term trends in particular geographic areas? That seems like it would be problematic.

  • Scott (no, the other Scott) June 2, 2009 (6:09 am)


    My read on the changes, and the numbers, are that they can still be used for comparison with previous years… it just takes some number crunching. Presumably there is someone in a small basement office at SPD who is now tasked with doing exactly that so they can continue to make year-to-year comparisons, but it’s unquestionably more challenging for the average citizen… which is unfortunate, since so many of us tend to feel either confident or scared based on purely anecdotal evidence, rather than statistical realities (witness the near-panic here over safety at Alki recently).

  • samson June 2, 2009 (10:53 am)

    what is happening with the police – i have noticed that the police usually hangs out at westwood village – chit chat… and some dont pay attention to road rages and bugulary increases at west wood village

    I wonder how many patrols on street through the night- what do they do? sit around and hang out at station – I have noticed there is not much police patrol around in west seattle – thats my concern that the crime has gone up more than last year…

  • bridge to somewhere June 2, 2009 (11:07 am)

    Ideally the city would have tracked crimes by GPS coordinates, not beat or census tracts. Instead, beat and/or census tracts would have been merely layers — filters — with which people could opt to view the data, independent of the actual data associated with the crime.
    I’m always surprised — and dismayed — by how little thought goes into government information systems.

  • Ken June 2, 2009 (11:42 am)

    I can’t agree more with bridge to somewhere’s comment. It is really hard to get a handle on what the crime numbers are in your immediate neighborhood without major research. I have been asked several times what the statistics are for our area and I have not been able to come up with an accurate response. If anyone has a site that simplifies this or has any suggestions please let me know.


  • Eddie June 2, 2009 (12:36 pm)

    Hello ‘sampson’ – you can go down to the Southwest precinct and sign up for a ride-along, and find out first-person just how much sitting around and chit-chat really is going on.

    In fact, once you’ve done that, why don’t you pop back on the blog and let us know if it changes your opinion of the job that the police are doing.

  • whaletailgirl June 2, 2009 (1:39 pm)

    Kudos, Eddie! Good point.

  • WSB June 2, 2009 (1:46 pm)

    Captain Kessler has pointed out that officers are encouraged to “park in visible places” when they have to stop down for report-writing. And yeah, they do take breaks sometimes. You’ll see a few in Caffe Ladro at night on occasion. Or other coffee shops … a couple years back, a bank robbery in Morgan Junction got instant response because a few of the officers were at the kitty-corner Starbucks. As you know if you are ever in a coffee shop or store with police or firefighters on breaks, their radios are with them at all times and they might get the call to bolt out to a call at any moment – TR

  • good points June 2, 2009 (9:41 pm)

    Ride alongs are extremely eye opening. Any citizen can request one. I have been on several and it never ceases to amaze me what police do. The word ‘police’ often equates negative by society while ‘firefighter’ is more often than not seen as positive. Go on a ride-along and you will see how hard these men and women work. And burglaries, like car thefts are very hard to catch in the act so its not their fault they are up. Hard times people! That is what is community is for.

  • alki_2008 June 3, 2009 (1:33 am)

    I agree that more drilled down location stats for crimes would be great, but I don’t think it’s fair to the victims to identify the exact house where a crime occurred. Maybe rolling up to a one or two block area, but not the exact address. The victims deserve some privacy, and rolling up to an area (rather than exact address) should be sufficient for the public’s edification.

Sorry, comment time is over.