City of Austin crime data
I was reading an article interviewing Tom Givens, and Tom is a data man. He doesn’t teach what he teaches because of something he read on the Internet or because he wants to be a tough guy. No, Tom likes looking at hard facts and evidence. Granted, Tom lives in Memphis, TN, one of the most crime-infested cities in America. In the interview Tom said:
All you have to do is go to the Bureau of Justice Statistics or the Uniform Crime Reporting system and look to see what actually happens. Look at the crime tallies for your own area, break it down by population and see what the actual threat level is.
In my city, you have about a one in eighty chance of being the victim of an aggravated assault this year alone. There are 7,500 of those, a couple thousand rapes, and five or six thousand armed robberies, so when you break it all down, you have a one in twenty chance of being involved in a violent crime this year in my city; about one in fifty in the country as a whole.
So I wondered… what about Austin?
Let’s look at a few things.
I looked at the FBI 2010 Uniform Crime Report. I looked for Austin. Note that as of this writing, 2010 was the latest data; 2011 data was starting to be reported but didn’t yet have the Austin breakdown. It reports Austin with a population of 796,310 and lists “violent crime” (murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault) at 3,790. That’s about 0.48%, or about 1 in 210. Property crime (burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson) is 45,826, or 5.75% or about 1 in 17. Austin may not be as violent as Memphis, but it’s sure not crime free.
Here’s another Austin crime data analysis I found, that looks at the 2009 data and projects 2012 data. I’m not sure how they’re making their projections, but they are projecting an increase. Now, I’m not totally sure about this because they looked at 2009 data and skipped over 2010, which I briefly looked at above and by comparison, violent crime went down in 2010 (2009 – 4,024 reported incidents, 2010 – 3,790), and property crime too (2009 – 48,026, 2010 – 45,826); population was lower in 2009 (768,970 in 2009, 796,310 in 2010). So is the trend really upwards? Hard to say based on 2 years of data. But, they did have some relative numbers too:
The city violent crime rate for Austin in 2009 was higher than the national violent crime rate average by 21.86% and the city property crime rate in Austin was higher than the national property crime rate average by 106.12%.
In 2009 the city violent crime rate in Austin was higher than the violent crime rate in Texas by 6.59% and the city property crime rate in Austin was higher than the property crime rate in Texas by 55.84%.
So according to their data gathering, Austin is higher than both the national average and state average in both violent crime and property crime. I must admit, seeing the property crime numbers surprised me. I knew property crime was a problem, but didn’t realize how it compared.
And again remember, this is only reported crime. Lots of crime happens that goes unreported. Furthermore, I reckon this is only looking at Austin proper, and likely leaves out areas that we like to consider Austin but aren’t, like Westlake or Rollingwood, Lakeway, and even “greater Austin area” like Buda, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Dripping Springs, Bastrop, etc..
I looked at the Trulia crime map for Austin. It only listed data “from 6/7 to 6/14″. I wish there was a way to list more data, say all of 2012 so far, but if there is a way I couldn’t find it. Just looking at that one week of data, I saw a few interesting things:
- Crime trends by day was pretty steady. 6/14 had a big dropoff and I’m not sure if that was because it was Thursday or maybe they didn’t have full data for the 14th? But every other day was pretty steady.
- Crime trends by hour? Most happened in daylight, tho certainly into the early night as well. It seemed from about 10 AM through midnight, with peaking in the afternoon (3 to 6 PM). 4-6 AM seemed to be rather unpopular.
- Crime was most prevalent downtown and in the University area. Neither are too surprising. East Austin wasn’t as crime-riddled as stereotypes would suggest, tho 78741 around Riverside/Oltorf/South Pleasant Valley was pretty heavy. More crime in north Austin than south Austin.
- When you look at individual crimes, one thing to observe is the scattershot pattern — it’s all over the map. Basically, there’s no “safe place” in Austin. Crime can and will happen anywhere and everywhere. Yes some areas may be more prone, but no where is immune.
- Robbery’s tend to happen in the afternoon.
- Assault happens any time, but seems to be moreso at lunch, dinner, and generally in the evening. Alcohol involvement perhaps?
- Burglary hourly trend was not a surprise to me: strong during the day, from about 10 AM to about 3-4 PM. Again, this is because most people aren’t home during the day, so that’s the prime time to strike.
- Theft runs an hourly pattern similar to burglary, tho runs a bit longer into the night.
I bet I could spend a lot of time in krimelabb and find more interesting data. And City of Austin has their CrimeViewer, but it’s too limited for what I’m trying to do. Both are good resources, but neither gives me just a flat out list of data.
Take this data for what it is. And I caution against using this data as a way to “fine-tune” your behavior, like to think that walking around outside at 5 AM means you don’t need to carry your gun. Austin may not be the most dangerous city to live in, but it’s certainly got danger. Shit happens, folks. It’s up to you how you want to handle things when the flag flies.