Baltimore has seen a substantial increase in robberies this year. Carjackings are up 49 percent across the city and Baltimore’s downtown neighborhood has seen a 70 percent jump in street robberies. And things only seem to be getting worse-- November was the worst month for carjackings in the city and October saw the highest number of street robberies.
While many have focused on the city’s high homicide numbers (which surpassed 300 for the second year in a row), robberies are up much more significantly year-over-year. Data from Open Baltimore and the Baltimore Police Department shows that Baltimore has seen a 16 percent increase in total robberies, with 5,228 so far in 2016* up from 4,497 total robberies in 2015.
Baltimore police classify robberies in several categories, including carjacking, commercial, residential, and street robberies. Two of those categories-- carjackings and street robberies-- are up significantly. Carjackings rose 49 percent this year, from 262 at this time in 2015 to 390 so far in 2016. Street robberies have seen a 19 percent jump in 2016, with 2,870 street robberies at this time in 2015 up to 3,416 in 2016. See map above to explore 2016 Baltimore robberies.
While the 2016 data shows sharp increases in many categories, residential robberies increased 9 percent year over year, while commercial robberies dropped 7 percent compared to 2015. (see below for more detail).
*All data current as of 12/17/2016
Carkjackings in Baltimore are up 49 percent from last year. Carjacking rates have fluctuated slightly over time, dropping in 2013 as seen in the chart below, but are up significantly over the last six years. With 390 carjackings so far in 2016, Baltimore has seen a 100 percent increase in carjackings over a six-year period (there were 194 carjackings in 2011).
Most carjackings in 2016 occurred with the use of a firearm (83 percent). The number of carjackings started increasing in April, as seen below, and have remained high throughout the year. November, with 60 incidents, saw more carjackings than any other month.
The Southern district was hit hard by carjackings in 2016, with a total of 61 incidents so far. This is the highest number of any district and represents a 259 percent increase in carjackings in the Southern.
Carjackings were also up significantly in the Central district (119 percent), the Western district (86 percent) and the Southeastern district (91 percent) in 2016. Carjackings were down 45 percent year-over-year in the Northeastern district.
The data also breaks robberies down by neighborhood. Most neighborhoods saw carjacking numbers in the low single digits in 2016. However, the following neighborhoods all had more than six carjackings each.
Several city corridors have experienced a rash of carjackings in 2016.
The map below shows a several block area skirting the neighborhoods of Penn North and Reservoir Hill, near North Avenue and McCulloh Street. The area highlighted in the map has seen seven carjackings in 2016. Though the crimes occurred between March and November, several of the incidents occurred just a few days apart in July and August, as seen in the table. The area is just north of Sandtown-Winchester and the site of rioting following the death of Freddie Gray in 2015.
|3/31/16||1100 W NORTH AVE|
|7/17/16||2300 MCCULLOH ST|
|7/27/16||2300 MCCULLOH ST|
|8/20/16||1000 W NORTH AVE|
|8/28/16||1200 W NORTH AVE|
|9/7/16||1200 W NORTH AVE|
|11/22/16||1000 W NORTH AVE|
This map shows the area around Hollins Market and Union Square in southwest Baltimore. The area highlighted in the map has seen nine carjackings in 2016. Two incidents occurred a week apart in July and three others occurred in a two-week period in November. The highlighted area is just west of the University of Maryland Medical Center.
|4/6/16||800 HOLLINS ST|
|6/6/16||800 HOLLINS ST|
|7/11/16||1100 HOLLIN ST|
|7/16/16||1300 HOLLINS ST|
|9/7/16||1100 HOLLINS ST|
|9/30/16||900 HOLLINS ST|
Several high profile carjackings have been in the news this year. In May, Baltimore police warned motorists to beware of fender-benders being caused deliberately after a string of armed carjackings in the city. "It's been widespread. It hasn't been isolated to any particular area of the city or any particular time," said T.J. Smith, the Police Department's chief spokesman. Several suspects were eventually arrested in that case but police were quoted as saying that the crimes were continuing to occur even after several arrests were made.
In October, a woman was carjacked in East Baltimore while unloading groceries and the suspect drove off with her 11-month-old baby in the car. The child was found more than two hours later on a sidewalk in Northeast Baltimore. A 15-year-old was charged with the crime.
Also in October, detectives spotted armed carjacking suspects after using recent trends to correctly predict that the suspects would head to Cherry Hill. As two detectives prepared to make an arrest, one of the officers accidentally shot himself in the wrist and the suspects escaped.
Earlier this month, former City Councilwoman Rikki Spector was injured in a high-profile carjacking. The 80-year-old tried to fight off her attackers, who threw her to the ground and drove off with her car, in a South Baltimore garage. A security gate prevented the teens from exiting the garage and one was arrested at the scene.
Street robberies are up 19 percent from last year. The increase in these robberies has been seen most acutely in Baltimore's Downtown neighborhood, where street robberies are up a staggering 70 percent year-over-year.
Looking at these incidents over time, street robberies have steadily risen over the past six years. With 3,416 street robberies so far in 2016, Baltimore has seen a 37 percent rise in these crimes since 2011 (when there were 2,490). Street robberies are generally defined as theft through use or threat of force in a public area.
Many of 2016’s street robberies involved the use of a firearm: 1,589 incidents reportedly involved a firearm and 406 involved a knife.
Street robberies have been steadily rising through 2016, hitting 289 incidents in April and staying high throughout the year. October and November were the two worst months for street robberies, with 394 and 381 incidents, respectively.
The Central and Southeastern districts recorded the highest number of street robberies in 2016, each near 600 incidents. The Southern district saw the highest percentage jump at 49 percent. The Southwestern, Northwestern and Northern districts all saw modest decreases in street robberies this year.
There were nine neighborhoods that exceeded 50 street robberies each in 2016:
|Patterson Park Neighborhood||68|
Baltimore’s Downtown neighborhood had the most street robberies by far-- 227 incidents, more than the entire Western District combined. This represents a 70 percent jump in that neighborhood. In fact, the number of robberies in downtown held steady at around 140 per year since 2011 before surging this year.
Downtown is the neighborhood located just north of the Inner Harbor, bordered by Lombard Street to the south, Paca Street to the west, Franklin Street to the north, and Fallsway to the east. It includes Lexington Market, Royal Farms Arena, Hippodrome Theater and War Memorial Plaza.
The map below highlights the locations of all reported street robberies in the Downtown neighborhood. Each square represents a location where a street robbery was reported, accompanied by the number of incidents at that location. The lighter squares represent locations with multiple incidents.
A few areas immediately jump out for having a high concentration of street robberies in downtown, explored in more detail below.
Royal Farms Arena
The Royal Farms Arena is located at 201 W. Baltimore St. It takes up a city block and is bordered by West Lombard Street, South Howard Street and Hopkins Place. On that single block, there were 21 reported street robberies in 2016. Fanning out a few more blocks would increase that number significantly, as seen in the map below. This location is just a few blocks from the University of Maryland, downtown hotels and Camden Yards.
Another hot spot for downtown street robberies is an eight-block section of Baltimore Street running between 400 East Baltimore St. (Baltimore Street and Gay Street) to 400 West Baltimore St. (Baltimore Street and Eutaw Street). Nearly 60 street robberies occurred on this section of Baltimore Street and many more if you expand one block north or south along the corridor, as seen in the map below. This corridor runs the length of downtown Baltimore and includes the Charles Center Station, the Hippodrome Theatre and The Block.
Satatoga and Eutaw
The corner of West Saratoga and North Eutaw is another hot spot, with 18 robberies occurring near that corner in 2016 (and many more if you fan out one block in either direction). This corner is home to a busy bus stop and is one block north of Lexington Market.
Several high-profile robberies have occurred in the Downtown neighborhood this year. In February, a father and son were charged in a daylight robbery near Power Plant Live where police say they struck a man in the head, knocked him to the ground and rummaged through his pockets. The suspects were spotted by an off-duty officer and arrested in the Latrobe Homes in Oldtown.
In May, a man was shot while being robbed on a Sunday morning on Water Street. Police said the victim struggled with a man trying to rob him, and several shots were fired. Another man had been shot on the same block a month earlier.
In August, police charged a man with attempted murder after he allegedly shot a man during a robbery in the unit block of Custom House Avenue The suspect had attempted to rob a man but the victim ran. The suspect shot at the victim but missed and was later arrested after being observed by a City Watch operator.
Residential and commercial robberies did not increase dramatically as carjackings and street robberies did in 2016. In fact, both crimes have seen decreases in recent years.
While residential robberies were up 9 percent from last year (from 426 at this time in 2015 to 466 in 2016), those crimes are actually down 20 percent over the last six years. In 2011 there were 581 residential robberies in Baltimore, 115 more than this year. An exception, the Northeastern district has seen a 32 percent rise in residential robberies this year.
Commercial robberies were down significantly year-over-year. Baltimore saw a 7 percent decline in commercial robberies this year, with 676 at this time in 2015 down to 632 so far in 2016.
*All data current as of 12/17/2016
Updated 12/23/2016 with new data
Source: Open Baltimore and Baltimore Police Department
Contact Adam Marton at email@example.com