Friday, April 25, 2014

Vandalism trend

FBI Part 1 offenses, the eight offenses that are the focus of crime statistics in the United States, do not include many crime types and subcategories that also affect our sense of well-being in our own neighborhood. One of those is vandalism--a particularly annoying and disconcerting crime that impacts thousands of Lincoln residents every year.

After a string of vandalisms occurred in my neighborhood this week, I became interested in whether we were experiencing a spurt citywide (we are not). One thing led to another, and before long I was making myself a spreadsheet of the trend over the past eight years. I was slightly surprised, and decided to break out the graffiti vandalism cases separately. Pretty remarkable to be able to assemble this data in a half hour at the kitchen counter (most of which was consumed formatting my graph)--a testament to the work of our IT staff in developing our fine records management system.

That sudden decline in graffiti in 2010 and the subsequent years, I believe, is best attributed to the City's efforts to eradicate graffiti quickly, spearheaded by the gentleman who coordinates this, Mr. William Carver at the Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department. When graffiti is quickly removed, it is much less likely to attract even more of its friends, enemies, and associates.


Steve said...

I wouldn't expect you to have any data on this, but I suspect a great many vandalisms go unreported because people know there is little chance of police being able to do anything about it. Even if the culprits are apprehended, the victims seldom get restitution for their losses.

Duff said...

Have you seen this Omaha-based company? They sell specialized software for tracking down vandals:

Tom Casady said...


No, I haven't seen this--although I've seen other similar products. This is essentially the same thing we do in Lincoln: track it, map it, connect it, (remove it!)

I think a cloud database solution like this would be particularly useful in a metro area where you have multiple agencies in adjacent municipalities: St. Louis, Denver, Kansas City, even Omaha and Des Moines. Taggers pay no attention to city limits, so you could have related tags in Manchester, Frontenac, Kirkwood, Des Peres, and Ballwin, but since they are investigated by different agencies, nobody has made the connection.

Anonymous said...

A cloud database like that would be nifty as one way to get a feel for the territorial spread and contraction of individual gangs, just like gang tats on persons contacted and/or arrested.

This next bit is unrelated, but was the vehicle in this incident happen to be a silverish-colored Olds Alero?

Tom Casady said...


No, Ford Mustang.