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Crime and Prevention

By David Conn
news@mwia.org

Mount Washington Crimes Pie Chart

The crime story for Mount Washington is a good news/bad news tale. The bad news is that crime in the neighborhood is on the increase. The good news is that residents weren’t just imagining it.

That’s the word from a Baltimore City Police representative who offered data and advice to residents at a special Mount Washington Improvement Association meeting on crime and security last month. An analysis of online crime-data conducted by the MWIA Newsletter confirms that, compared with a year earlier, reports of serious crimes in Mount Washington increased by about 41 percent through November 2015.

Northern District Police Lieutenant Victor R. Comegna told a crowd of about 50 at a December 8 MWIA community meeting that in the 28 days prior to the gathering there were 20 serious crimes, known as “Part 1 offenses,” in Mount Washington. Part 1 offenses are victim-based incidents that include homicide, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, larceny, and auto theft. However, according to Lt. Comegna, most of the incidents in Mount Washington were burglaries, robberies, and auto theft, and 11 of 12 residential burglaries occurred between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

That’s the word from a Baltimore City Police representative who offered data and advice to residents at a special Mount Washington Improvement Association meeting on crime and security last month. An analysis of online crime-data conducted by the MWIA Newsletter confirms that, compared with a year earlier, reports of serious crimes in Mount Washington increased by about 41 percent through November 2015.

Mount Washington Crimes By Month

Northern District Police Lieutenant Victor R. Comegna told a crowd of about 50 at a December 8 MWIA community meeting that in the 28 days prior to the gathering there were 20 serious crimes, known as “Part 1 offenses,” in Mount Washington. Part 1 offenses are victim-based incidents that include homicide, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, larceny, and auto theft. However, according to Lt. Comegna, most of the incidents in Mount Washington were burglaries, robberies, and auto theft, and 11 of 12 residential burglaries occurred between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

A series of arrests was made in October and November, including of juveniles involved in previous burglaries, Lt. Comegna said. He urged residents to take common-sense precautions to avoid being victimized.

“I’m not saying you have to barricade yourself in your houses,” Lt. Comegna said. Instead, residents should ensure that all doors and windows are locked, and that keys and valuables are kept out of sight. A home alarm may not completely prevent a theft, he added, but typically will force burglars to grab only what they can see and get out within a few minutes. (See sidebar with crime prevention tips.)

To help recover any stolen items, he urged that people record the serial numbers of expensive equipment, including bicycles and lawnmowers (or etch a driver’s license number on items without a serial number), and consider downloading a “tracker app” that will show the location of a smartphone or tablet.

Lt. Comegna also commended efforts to establish a neighborhood patrol (see related story). “I think it’s effective,” he said. “I also think it’s a good way to see what’s going on” in the neighborhood from unaccustomed perspectives and identify possible risks.

An analysis of Baltimore City online crime-data through November 28, 2015, shows 128 reported incidents in Mount Washington of Part 1 crimes. While there was one reported rape in the neighborhood and nine “common assaults,” all of the remaining crimes were thefts, robberies, and burglaries.

In the same period of 2014, by contrast, there were 91 incidents, including five assaults (one of them “aggravated” and involving a firearm). Reported incidents are therefore up about 41 percent from last year.

These data reflect only reported crimes; there is no way to determine whether actual incidents are increasing or, instead, whether increased vigilance has led to more reports.

Despite the increase, Mount Washington remains one of the safer neighborhoods of the City. Its population is about 0.6 percent of the City’s, but its reported crimes last year were only about 0.2 percent of all reported crimes.

Mount Washington Crimes Types Comparison

Through November 2015, there were 5,119 crimes reported in the Northern District (generally encompassing Mount Washington, Coldspring, and Woodberry, south to about North Avenue, west to include Waverly and Pen Lucy and through to The Alameda), and 43,130 reported Part 1 incidents citywide, a 2.6 percent increase from the same period in 2014. A much-reported category, homicides, showed 310 citywide as of mid-December 2015 as compared to 211 in all of 2014. There has not been a reported homicide in Mount Washington in at least five years.

Residents also were urged to write and submit victim impact statements after crimes. “It’s very important that community members show up in court to present the statement in person,” said Merrick Moise, the Northern District community liaison with the City State’s Attorney’s Office. Impact statements are considered by a court after a conviction during the sentencing hearing, he said. A statement from a community association can also be effective in ensuring that a fair sentence is handed down.

Mr. Moise further advised crime victims to ask a police officer for a report of the incident. “That will generate a case number, and allow victims’ advocates to track the case” and help keep victims informed throughout the process, he said.