Wichita crime statistics show that determined police work is paying off in the city's center — but also that residents living in outer areas of the city should be aware of the expanding reach of crime.
Overall, Wichita had a 1.5 percent drop in major crimes last year when compared with 2008. That is an impressive achievement given concerns that rising unemployment might lead to increased crime. But the drop was particularly significant in the city's inner city.
As reported in the Sunday Eagle, crime was down 4.7 percent last year in the 19 crime-reporting zones that are within a mile of Douglas and Broadway, as compared with the average of the previous four years. And in the 39 zones that are one or two miles from the city's center, crime was down 5.4 percent.
This drop appears due in considerable part to the aggressive work of the Wichita Police Department in targeting criminals and in working with businesses and neighborhood groups. For example, The Eagle article noted how police have worked closely with motel owners along North Broadway to crack down on drug dealers and prostitution.
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The core area still has the highest crime rates in the city. The 19 reporting zones in Wichita's center, which cover only 3.6 percent of the city's land area, account for 11.5 percent of the city's auto thefts, 8.5 percent of the burglaries, 17 percent of the robberies and 10.5 percent of the homicides.
But thanks to the hard work of police and others, the core is becoming safer.
Unfortunately, that's not the case with some areas outside the core. In the 242 zones that are more than five miles from Douglas and Broadway, crime was up 11.4 percent.
This increase likely is primarily due to changing housing patterns and not a result of police driving crime out of the core into other areas of the city. Also, some of these outlying reporting zones have had such low crime rates that even a few more crimes can result in a large percentage increase.
Still, some residents in those areas may be somewhat complacent, because crime rates have been so low where they live. For example, some homeowners leave garage doors open while they are home, which makes them easy targets for thieves.
No neighborhood is immune to crime, so residents should be cautious and proactive about safeguarding their homes, such as by requesting a free home-security inspection by the Police Department. One of the best crime-prevention measures is for neighbors to look out for one another and to report suspicious activity.
Wichita is a safe city. But whether you live in the core or on the outskirts of the city, it is wise to be aware and vigilant.