To have a productive conversation about public safety in our part of the city, we have to get our hands around what we’re actually talking about when we think about crime. At Southwest Voices we are aware of the damage that fear-based reporting can have on our community. To this point, we published our approach to public safety reporting last week.

We’ve gotten a number of requests to cover individual crimes, and in particular, carjackings. But we don’t believe that covering one-off incidents does much to keep people safe unless they’re more informed about what it actually means.

The map below of auto thefts and carjackings in the 5th precinct, whose boundaries line up almost exactly with our own, is a first step towards doing that.

A few notes before we dive into the data:

  • The data was provided by the City of Minneapolis based on reported incidents to the Minneapolis Police Department. 
  • This map reflects carjackings (a car stolen when someone is inside) and auto thefts (a car stolen when nobody is inside) from August to the end of December 2021. This is the most recent data available. 
  • This data are not perfect. There are variabilities in how people and police report these incidents, what location they decide to report them at, and more—which means this map doesn’t reflect every incident precisely where it happened. 
  • This is the data the police and city uses to guide their policing and public safety work.  
  • An important caveat with all of this data is that it follows the patterns of where the crimes occurred, not where the victims themselves may live. We know where the crimes are happening, this data does not tell us who they are happening to. For example, Whittier and Lowry Hill East have busy streets that cut through them, which results in a larger number of carjackings than areas that don’t have them.
  • If you have questions about the data, text us at 612-204-2887.

A few things jumped out to us about this data:

Many of the carjackings are happening near freeways. Eighty-four percent of the carjackings in the last two weeks of 2021 took place within 1 mile of an exit of 35W, I-94, or Highway 62. Forty-five percent took place within a half mile of one of the exits. On our map you can visually see how carjackings tend to happen closer to the freeways. 

There’s some evidence that these crimes are happening in clusters – multiple crimes in the same neighborhood within a couple days of one another. A large number of the carjackings happened within 48 hours of another one. In Lowry Hill East, nine of the 15 carjackings in the last four months happened within 48 hours of another carjacking in the neighborhood. In East Bde Maka Ska,  3 of the 4. In Whittier, 15 of the 27. In Lowry Hill, 8 of the 11. In Kingfield, 3 of the 7. 

In the three neighborhoods immediately west of 35W (Whittier, Lyndale, and Kingfield) 15 of the 39 carjackings happened in a ten-day stretch of November 2021. Kingfield had widely-publicized carjackings on November 8, 14, 15, and 16. They haven’t had one since. 

Five of the seven carjackings in the neighborhoods that ring Lake Harriet (East Harriet, Lynnhurst, Fulton, and Linden Hills) happened between November 14 and 25. 

Thirty-one of the 34 carjackings in Lowry Hill East, Lowry Hill, and East Isles came within two days of another carjacking in one of the three neighborhoods. 

When looking at auto thefts, 15% of the auto thefts in the city were from people who left their cars running, unattended.

There is an important distinction between auto thefts and carjackings. An auto theft is when an unattended car is stolen when it’s parked on the street, in a garage or in a parking lot. Auto theft is a property crime. 

A carjacking is where the driver is violently forced to give their car to the perpetrator(s). Carjackings are a violent crime. Our city has seen a much larger amount of auto thefts than carjackings. 

Auto thefts and carjackings based on neighborhood & per capita

The data show specific neighborhoods that have seen more incidents of auto thefts and carjackings. The hardest hit, based just on the number of incidents, are Whittier, Lowry Hill East and Lyndale. 

When population size per neighborhood is taken into account, Lowry Hill East, West Bde Maka Ska and Whittier are seeing the highest levels of auto thefts and carjackings. We calculated this by dividing the number of reported auto thefts and carjackings in one neighborhood by the neighborhood’s population size (using U.S. Census data).

We’re hoping that this data can be the start of a larger conversation around public safety, so we would encourage you to take it into your own hands and draw the conclusions you see fit from it. Here’s a link to the full dataset of the entire city if you want to dive in.

Reporting done by Andrew Haeg, Melody Hoffmann and Charlie Rybak.