UPDATE: Seattle Does Not Actually Have the Highest Rate of Property Crime in the Nation


And yesterday's hit-job post on Slog by Shoreline candidate Jin-Ah Kim pulled by editors without comment.

Such professionalism at The Stranger.
@1. What was "hit job" about it? I read it and Kim basically said that the candidates weren't realistically addressing addiction and the opioid epidemic. Her perspective being one of a former addict herself.

Also, yeah. Why was that pulled?

And for anyone who has ever been to or lived in Memphis you'd have already known the claim that seattles property crime rate is highest in the nation was laughable.
Demagogues are going to be really disappointed.

Why does Seattle have a fairly high property crime rate?
Aww.. but we had a really fun troll war going in the comment thread of that article! All these comments, lost in time, like..tears.. in rain...
haha, hilarious. one thing is indisputable, though: its all the fault of safe injection sites.
Oh thank God. We're only #1 among the top 20 largest cities in America.
Because everyone knows that in the post-craigslist era almost all professional journalists use campaign literature as their primary source of factual information.
I’m all for eliminating non-news random factoids and clickbaity headlines, but this explanation is embarrassing:

...other problems with ranking cities by crime rate. For one, this information doesn't tell us much, because about half of all crime is unreported.

Ooookay, property crime rates are under-reported — and so are rates of human smuggling, corporate mismanagement, date rape, public graft, and virtually every other societal wrong a newspaper should consider relevant and worth pursuing, even if it’s hard.
Actually @1, @2, @4, we didn't pull the piece, she did. She was upset with our (admittedly extensive) edits and requested that we take the piece down. It's published in it's entirety at South Seattle Emerald.
and before you ask, yes, she did have the opportunity to see the edits before we published.
I was about to point out that that post sounded like bullshit to me, but the comment thread was such a dumpster fire I didn't want to touch it. Can you block some of these Russian bots?
If you are one of the households who have had your car broken into and your mailbox ripped off the wall multiple times, this disclaimer is meaningless.

I've had my car broken into. My house has been robbed. But that doesn't mean I forget how to do math. It's bad enough that some of my stuff got taken but I wouldn't want to compound that with everyone thinking I'm a rank ignoramus who can't grasp basic statistics. Being a crime victim is bad but being a crime victim that all my friends think is a rube would be too much to bear.

You know, when you think about it, my talent for math and science and logical reasoning is the whole reason I make enough money to have such fine shit to have stolen. Wouldn't want to chuck my quantitative skills out the window just because I got ripped off and want to wallow in feeling sorry for myself.

But you do you. You keep placing big bets on your football team when they try to win every game by kicking a 60 yard field goal, because it worked that one time. Hey, if they hit a 60 yarder once, then I guess that settles that. Who cares about the laws of probability? Laws of probability are meaningless that one time they won that one game with a longshot kick.

Let's spend the rest of our lives pretending 60 yard field goals are the new normal. I take it you don't vaccinate?
@10 Thanks for the clarification, Katie. Seemed like a good post to me. Weird that she got cold feet.
The Stranger's update could have at least told us what the accurate ranking is, fwiw. We have the 6th highest rate out of the 50 biggest cities in the US (and we're #1 out of the top 20). That's nothing to celebrate. So while Scott Lindsay should have been a little more clear about our ranking, he's not far off the mark. And there is is a growing and very justified perception that the cops don't bother with property crimes. They don't even file reports. So people are giving up on calling the cops and reporting, and the scumbags get bolder.
@13 so property crime a-ok but sharing parks with dogs is a step to far?
@16: enough with the binary oppositions. no one said it's "a-ok". no one likes property crime.

If you're that good with the math and stats, maybe you could tell the rest of us how the available evidence shows that Seattle does not have a very high rate of property crime, for a US city?

Indeed, I did not say it was OK. All I said was that reality is reality. The property crime rate in Seattle is basically the same as SF and any other geographically and demographically comparable city. That's simply a fact. It is a simple fact that in the late 80s, Seattle had about 13,500 property crimes per 100,000 people, which is two and a half times the ~5,500 rate we see today. I totally get that you're sad that your car got broken into in 2016, but in 1988, your car would have been broken into two or three times instead of just once. Either one sucks, but it used to suck 2.47 times as much.

I would agree with anyone who aspires to for Seattle to have the ~2000-ish property crimes per 100k that NYC or LA or San Diego has. That's a great goal. But why, exactly, do those cities seem to exist on another level of safety? If you don't know then what exactly do you have to contribute here?

Robotslave, the Seattle Times Guy tried to explain why Seattle does not have a very high property crime rate. Seattle is in the same league as San Francisco, Oakland, Albuquerque, Atlanta, etc. There's nothing surprising about this fact. It's not a reason to panic or decide that crime is rampant in Seattle.

If Seattle Times Guy failed to get that through your head, far be it for me to even try. You've apparently decided that believing crime in Seattle is bad is your religion. Proof and faith are incompatible. Bless you for having such strong faith in... whatever you call that.

Huh, all that math and stats expertise, and yet you can't show us yourself, using numerical argument, that Seattle doesn't have a very high property crime rate relative to other US cities.

That kind of makes me question your lofty assessment of your own abilities, buddy.
@20 "relative to other US cities"

Within its region, North of and including San Francisco, Seattle's property crime rate is probably not exceptional for a large city. The declining long term trend is the only significant data we have.

That "Is probably" of yours will need some of that "statistics" and "numerical argument" stuff to back it up, if we're getting all blustery about maths in here.

I'm a little concerned that there might be some goalpost-moving going on here, too, like "Seattle has an arguably ordinary property crime rate when compared to other US cities with property crime rates well above the average for all US cities."
@22 If you had any data showing that Seattle has a higher crime rate than other major cities in its region, I hope you would have shown it. You didn't. What else is there to say?
So the burden is on somebody else to provide you with a mathematical proof of some kind to disprove the assertion that Seattle's property crime is above average? It seems like the burden is on the person who makes the assertion. Scott Lindsay is the one who started this. He went and looked at at the FBI's 2016 preliminary data and announced that Seattle ranked higher than any other US city. By "US city" Lindsay meant "the 20 largest cities", not all cities.

Where did Lindsay get this? He got it here. Lindsay went to the download link and clicked it to get the Excel sheets. Where did he click exactly?

Here let me see if I can guide you. Scroll down the page there. Are you down around the bottom? The place where it says
Caution against ranking
Figures used in this Report were submitted voluntarily by law enforcement agencies throughout the country. Individuals using these tabulations are cautioned against drawing conclusions by making direct comparisons between cities. Comparisons lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents. Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction.

See it? So hover there around that paragraph where it says all that stuff, THE DATA USER IS, THEREFORE, CAUTIONED AGAINST COMPARING STATISTICAL DATA OF INDIVIDUAL AGENCIES. and so on.

So you're looking at the CAUTION AGAINST RANKING thingy, right? Yep, that's the spot. Now from there, look up and to the right. Just start there where it says cautioned against drawing conclusions by making direct comparisons between cities. and scan on over to the right and up a bit and click the 'download Excel files' link.

If you get confused or don't see the link. Just go back to the bottom paragraph where it says that, like, hey don't be a douche and try to rank the cities in our data ok? and go over and up to the right to that link. Once you download it, you'll have the same data files that Scott Lindsay had when he organized the cities into, you know, a ranking of the top 20 largest ones. Basically took the number of crimes per population and ordered them for comparison.

Now that you have the data files, you, too can do the EXACT FUCKING OPPOSITE of what the people who collected this data said to do with it. Once you have misused the tables in precisely the way the fucking told you was WRONG and INVALID you can put Lindsay's assertion that Seattle ranks worst among the 20 largest cities for property crime.

Let's quote Lindsay so we don't get confused: "When you [ignore the instructions and] compare Seattle to our peer cities — cities with Fortune 100 headquarters in them, and are major international hubs — Seattle is highest [in terms of what this data was never intended to be used for] in the nation. That is [not] a very significant fact."

So there you go. Go prove that shit.
@16, @17 when it comes to property crime Ph’nglui is all professor math, but when it comes to dog, they’re all “get the fuck out of my parks”. Seattle has over 100k dogs, and yet only has 25 arces, much less then portland or sf. Seattle parks spend $100k a year and felt it was fine to spend $100k on a report that justifies doing nothing. The math says the number of dogs in this city is growing, but hey Ph’nglui wants to keep piss out of parks so fuck dog owners (talk to any parent and they’ll tell u stories about their kid pissing on the play ground, but I guess that’s different).

You would be better off looking at property crime in Seattle (or any city) longitudinally rather than comparing across cities. As above, without a careful analysis you are not necessarily comparing apples to apples because there are more variables that the reported stats have not accounted for. Whether your crime rate going up or down is what should matter most anyway.
@24. Per the data they are presenting Seattle is the highest ranking.

And it doesn't say that their data is invalid or wrong if you make conclusions. It cautions against it. I think the FBI would take issue with that stupid assumption.

So with the existing data in the UCR Seattle ranks highest among the top 20 cities. Disclaimer, there are other law enforcement factors that fit into compiling and studying crime statistics, but the FBI doesn't want to get into the ranking business because it's detrimental to communities to do so.
The property crime rate is too damned high.
Ok, so what can we do about it?
SPD treats each property crime under $1,000 as something not worth even looking into.
Much of the smaller scale property crime is perpetrated by the same small group committing these petty thefts over and over.
If the SPD would look at it this way, all those broken car windows, burgled garages, package thefts would add up to a few people having an impact of tens of thousands of dollars. That's worth following up on.
The next problem is that even when they do catch one of these thieves, the prosecutors are still just looking at it as the single broken window and pocket change they were brought in for, and not the whole ten block radius suffering from weeks of broken windows, stolen amazon boxes, and bikes stripped for parts.
Focus a little more on these property crimes and prosecuting them for the real volume they're responsible for and we'll see a real drop in the crime rate. I'm not saying lock up everyone for spitting on the sidewalk or some extreme bullshit like that, but right now we're living with the other extreme where property crime is tolerated, accepted, and mostly just ignored.
No, it says quite plainly that “Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction.” Comparing statistics in the relatively raw form they are presented in this report will not give an accurate answer because there are a number of other confounding variables that have not been considered.

In other words, the FBI is being very, very careful to cover their ass, which I think is to be expected.

And yet the numbers are still there. The number of property crimes reported in each city. The number of residents of each city.

And so far, nobody in this thread has been able to muster a numerical argument that those numbers do not say what they very plainly appear to say: that Seattle has a very high rate of property crime compared to other US cities.


You are thrashing wildly and furiously, but you are not presenting a numerical argument. There is data. The data plainly and directly suggest that Seattle has a very high rate of property crime compared to other US cities. This is not a court of law, there is no judge or "burden of proof," but if you are going to assert that the data do not say what they very clearly appear to say, and you are going to suggest that your assertion is based in advanced mathematical and statistical knowledge, then yes, you are kind of obliged to provide a numerical argument backing up your assertion.
j2patter you got me there. I am opposed to piss in our parks. I admit it. While I'm being all mea culpa, I guess I might as well come clean on the other thing: shit. I oppose shit in the parks too. Dogs pissing in parks is bad. And shitting. That's bad too. There I said it. Feels good to get that off my chest.

Those of you who like stepping in shit at your local park, I'm sorry. I guess we have to agree to disagree on that one.

Robotslave said: "The data plainly and directly suggest that Seattle has a very high rate of property crime compared to other US cities." Where is your numerical argument? You speak these words and speak of "the data" but where are your numbers? What you're saying here is, "go look at the data and see for yourself." When I say "go look at the data", you whine "you are not presenting a numerical argument." So fuck that. Anyway, Gene Balk at the Times gave you your numerical argument and you stuck your fingers in your ears and said la la la la la.

Can't shake the faith of a true believer. What a weird religion you have.

Robotslave also said: "The data plainly and directly suggest that Seattle has a very high rate of property crime compared to other US cities." You refuse to believe the FBI when they tell you this data is not valid for comparing one city to another. But you do believe the FBI when they tell you these numbers are accurate? If you think they're lying about the the fact that it's invalid to compare one city to another with this data set, how do you know they're not lying about the data itself?

Seems like you're picking and choosing which things you want to believe from this particular source. Can I do that too? Maybe I'll decide I believe most of it but I'll say the rate of property crimes in NYC is 6,000, not 1,462. HIGHER than Seattle! Is that OK? I'll just contradict whatever parts of the source I don't like and agree with the parts I do like.

How do I justify it? See, when the FBI said the NYC rate was 1,462, they were just covering their ass. It's really way higher. 1,462 is just something they have to say to cover their ass. How do I know? Same way you know.

If I say Scott Lindsay fucks goats, whose job is it to disprove it? I guess it's yours. Your job is now to provide a mathematical argument showing it's not true that Scott Lindsay fucks goats. I don't care if none of the facts we have in front of us are appropriate for demonstrating that Scott Lindsay fucks goats. It's apparently not my job to prove my case. I just get to say Scott Lindsay fucks goats, Scott Lindsay fucks goats, Scott Lindsay fucks goats all I want. Now that I said it it's out there and it's true until you disprove it. With numbers. I want to see your math.

Also, any evidence that you have that doesn't support that Scott Lindsay fucks goats I get to deny. I'm only going to accept the parts of the data that I like, and I only like those parts that say Scott Lindsay fucks goats. Have fun with that. Say hi to Scott for me.

Yet another "I refuse to provide a numerical argument because the FBI told me I'm totally not allowed to use this data the kind of quantitative comparison for which it very clearly can be used to at least some degree of certainty, if not completely conclusively."

That's not a numerical argument, Captain Mathpants. There's one of those cute logical fallacy names for it, but I'm sure you're supersmart enough to know about all of those.

You're terrible at numerical reasoning.

If you had anything near the ability you seem to think you have with numbers, you'd at least be able to posit a particular condition that might skew the data, and then show, using numerical methods, how that condition would skew the data, and by how much.

But you're not capable of that-- you're the kind of "smart about maths" person who can learn a formula and apply it when the teacher tells you to apply it, and not when the teacher tells you not to apply it.

What you can't do is even begin to analyze a problem for yourself.

I provided a link to numerical argument by Gene Balk. I can't make you read it. That's your choice. Should I sit here and type out everything he said again for your benefit? If you won't read the Times article you won't read me rehashing the whole thing.

"You're terrible at numerical reasoning." OK, I'll play. I am terrible. So what?

"If you had anything near the ability you seem to think you have". But I DON'T do I? Still, who cares?

"But you're not capable of that". Have it your way. But does it matter to anybody?

"What you can't do is even begin to analyze a problem for yourself." Oh, my god you're right! I suck. Still tho -- who cares? Anybody?

I guess we can all agree that I oppose dog pee and poop in the parks -- good point there patter! -- and I'm just the worst at math or something. Yet... nobody but you cares. Why should they? Why do you?

Now Scott Lindsay. Guy made a fool of himself again. Also, does he fuck goats? People are asking the question. Lindsay is trying to get people to vote for him and it kind of matters that he pulled a Donald Trump and got his ass fact-checked in the city's paper of record. And the Stranger too, eventually. Wouldn't want to be that goat fucker. Alleged.

And "If you are one of the households who have had your car broken into and your mailbox ripped off the wall multiple times, this disclaimer is meaningless" is still an inane thing to say. Reality is still reality whether you have had your shit taken or not. The crime rate is the same whether you're the guy whose car and mailbox keep getting hit (hint: you have enemies, dude. How crazy is your ex?), or you're not.

The other false premise is Gene Balk's statement "No, Seattle doesn’t have the nation’s highest rate of property crime" in no way implies "If you feel bad about your car's repeated break ins [by your crazy ex just saying], you should stop feeling bad, because the crime rate". Nobody said that. Balk didn't say that.

You should probably still feel bad about that no matter what the crime rate is. Nobody is expected to feel good about having their shit taken. Whether you can't learn to lock your car or you have earned somebody's eternal wrath or whatever the reason. In fact, the discussion about what the crime rate is was never specifically about what that one guy who got ripped off [who let's face it has enemies] is supposed to feel.

Anyway, I guess since you've gone and discovered that this one guy on the internet whose name nobody can pronounce is bad at math now you have to go find somebody who gives a shit about your discovery. At least I don't try to grab headlines with false claims about FBI data like that candidate for city attorney Scott Lindsay. And at least I don't fuck goats.
So, how many crimes should we have?
@35 "Seattle has a very high rate of property crime compared to other US cities"

Not compared to other Washington state cities. Out of the largest 15 urban centers in Washington only 3 have a property crime rate significantly lower than Seattle (Bellevue, Vancouver, Kirkland).
@31, not 35
@31, The FBI - or rather the professional statisticians who wrote this report - are being accurate. Without a robust, multivariate statistical analysis where you adjust for other factors not accounted for in this table, the rank is meaningless. This does not mean Seattle doesn’t have a high rate of property crime, only that the rank people keep citing is bunk.
I should add: it's entirely possible that Seattle’s true rank is even higher than this report would suggest.
It’s weird though. Does Seattle really *seem* like crime is spinning out of control? Lots of people move here from California. How many people do you know from LA who say “gee there’s FOUR times as many break ins here than what I’m used to”? Any?

The New Yorkers I know have never hinted that they are getting ripped off four times as often. You’d think they would mention it.

That’s not proof of anything but you’d think if you were in one of the worst crime cities in the country you’d *notice*. And no, I don’t mean a hobo was on your lawn that one time or spoke to your kid at the park. I mean have you ever lived in Spokane? Spokane has some crime and if you weren’t aware of it, you’d know after being there about a day.

The FBI made it very clear what the problem is: every police force is special. They each have their own way of deciding what to report and what to call it. It’s sad that we pay our police so much to deal with crime yet they are the last ones you can trust to tell you anything about crime.