Crime map offers view of offenses according to city area

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Vandals rode up and down Brownsville Road in Carrick last summer, snapping off car antennas by the dozen.

"It wasn't a few, it was 10 or 12," said Jean Fink of Carrick's Community Council. "If it's your vehicle, it's a nightmare."

Carrick residents reported 293 acts of vandalism last year, more than any other city neighborhood other than the South Side Flats, which clocked 313. Yet neighboring Brookline had just 137. Overbrook reported fewer incidents still, at 53.

An interactive map posted today on will allow viewers to review the crimes that trouble their neighborhoods, from assaults and robberies to prostitution, drunken driving and disorderly conduct. Dragging the mouse over a community reveals Pittsburgh police bureau statistics on offenses large and small.


The map accompanies a Google map of Allegheny County that displays the location of every homicide reported since 2008, along with each victim's name, age, race and cause of death. While that map shows patterns of violence, today's addition also offers insight into offenses that affect quality of life in city neighborhoods.

"When you put the statistics out like that it might give us a good basis for requesting more police," Ms. Fink said. "It makes you more aware. It could help the block watch communities."

The statistics reflect crimes reported to city police in 2009; higher numbers might mean more crime, or simply that residents of some neighborhoods are more proactive in reporting problems.

The numbers can raise awareness, but Deputy police Chief Paul Donaldson cautioned that they don't always paint a complete portrait of what's going on in a particular area. The statistics don't, for example, consider the economics of a community, or its demographics, population, size and other factors that may contribute to certain crimes. Nor do they explore evolving crime trends, which could be better indicators of whether a neighborhood is improving or is in decline.

"I hope people don't use it as a litmus test and believe their neighborhood is unsafe when that may not necessarily be true," Chief Donaldson said.

The numbers help police make staffing and funding decisions and gauge whether certain programs are effective. For the public, the statistics might trigger a larger community conversation about crime-fighting strategies and solutions.

The Central Business District topped the list for violent crime, with 140 reported incidents of rape, aggravated assault, homicide and robberies accounting for most of that total. The district also led in property crime, with 871 reported burglaries, thefts, car thefts and arsons. The South Side Flats was second, with 719 such reports.

The map also includes lesser crimes, or "part two" offenses, such as forgery, stolen property, vandalism, weapons violations, prostitution and drunken driving. Police say these crimes are better indicators of a neighborhood's quality of life.

The Bluff led in prostitution reports at 75; the South Side Flats saw the most drunken driving reports at 190, while the Central Business District had the most incidents of public intoxication at 51.Most drug violations took place in Fineview.

"In spite of our best efforts, people can be victims of crime," said Chief Donaldson, noting that overall crime was down in the city in 2009 for the third straight year. "People should be aware of the crimes that occur in their community because police can't do this alone. You have to have a working partnership."

Sadie Gurman: or 412-263-1878.


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