Though District-wide property crimes are slightly down, smash and grab car break-ins are occurring more frequently in neighborhoods east of the Anacostia river.
According to the Metropolitan Police Department, as of June 20, total property crime in D.C. is down 1 percent (13,354) from the same time a year ago (13,556) with theft from automobiles down 8 percent from 5,350 reported incidents in 2016 to 4,920 reported incidents to date. But, according to data provided by the police department, smash and grab crimes in Southeast D.C. are significantly higher than other crimes. As of June 19, there were 25 homicides, 549 assault crimes, and 869 auto thefts.
Sheila Carson, a Ward 7 advisory neighborhood commissioner, told the AFRO that there are even more crimes happening in southeast D.C. than reported. “Numbers are down is not true. You are if the victim reports it,” she said.
“The crime is to the individuals who are poor and have drug addiction problems,” Carson said.
Paul Trantham, advisory neighborhood commissioner for Ward 8, told the AFRO, “ great majority of violence is going on because of the younger generation, if you want to work, you are going to find a job. They don’t want to abide by any structure they want to live wildly.”
Whether the uptick in theft crimes is a result of drug usage or the younger generation, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser held a public briefing June 19 in northwest D.C. to provide residents with tips on how they could help decrease crime occurrences.
“Being more mindful is particularly important during the summer months when we see an uptick in theft. Often times, these types of thefts are a crime of opportunity. We’re asking residents to take away those opportunities by never – not even for a few minutes – leaving belongings visible and unattended in their cars,” Bowser said at the briefing.
Bowser suggested that residents remove keys from the ignition, lock all vehicle doors, close all windows and employ deterrents. Bowser also said that the city, in an effort to decrease crime, has increased police patrols and has officers going door-to-door to speak with residents in high crime areas. A public outreach campaign, Back2BasicsDC, is also being developed through the Mayor’s office.
“Because there is a lack of resources, lack of love and a lack of social life, crimes are going to be consistently high,” southeast D.C. resident Eric Weaver, chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Returning Citizens, told the AFRO.
James Wright contributed to this article.