What percentage of Seattle crime do you think happens downtown?
Take a wild guess: What percentage of Seattle crime do you think happens downtown?
If you guessed a number higher than 7 percent, it’s perfectly understandable. The public perception of downtown, after all, is that of a dangerous place.
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole told The Seattle Times last month that she faces constant complaints about downtown disorder. Someone even runs a Twitter account — @3rdAndPike — to chronicle street crime and the general sketchiness at that infamous intersection.
But 7 percent is, in fact, the correct answer.
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I calculated that by analyzing Seattle Police Department incident-report data going back to 2008 — more than 460,000 records. I grouped those incidents by the census tract where they occurred. About 32,000 of them — that’s 7 percent — were reported in the tract that covers Seattle’s downtown core and Pike Place Market.
Admittedly, that’s a substantial amount of crime for a small part of town — and at about half a square mile, the downtown census tract is only 0.4 percent of Seattle’s total land area.
But still, let’s cut downtown a little slack. After all, 93 percent of reported crime in Seattle happened somewhere else. And, as I discovered by crunching the police data, there’s a long list of crimes for which downtown is surpassed by some other Seattle neighborhood.
Home burglary, for example. Downtown residents can sleep tight knowing that most thieves won’t bother scaling the walls of their high-rise or trying to slip past the concierge.
Not so in Beacon Hill, which ranks No. 1 for this crime. Compared with downtown, the neighborhood has had 25 times the number of forced-entry residential burglaries.
Ballard, to be sure, has come a long way from its Norwegian fishing-village roots — even still, I wouldn’t have pegged it as the city’s capital of forged narcotics prescriptions. Thirty-two have been reported in Central Ballard, more than any other area.
The neighborhood also has the most DUIs, with nearly twice as many as downtown.
BUIs, though? That’s boating under the influence, and Wallingford has a lock on those.
Meanwhile, boat theft has become something of a scourge in the marina-heavy Sunset Hill section of Ballard — nine have been reported there.
Big parking lots are a magnet for car thieves, so it’s not surprising that Northgate — with both a shopping mall and a park-and-ride — is tops for auto theft in Seattle. Since 2008, more than 700 have been reported — 88 percent higher than downtown.
Stadium-area parking has its perils, too: Sodo ranks No. 1 for auto-parts theft.
I included a couple of crimes where other neighborhoods tie downtown for the highest number of incidents. Capitol Hill’s Broadway does that for armed bank heists, while the South Beacon Hill/Holly Park area matches downtown for homicides — each have reported nine since 2008.
From graffiti to mail fraud to identity theft, there are plenty of crimes where some neighborhood other than downtown ranks No. 1. Check them all out on our map.