Crime Time in STL: Breaking Down 2012 St. Louis City Crimes

In the City of St. Louis, police documented 215 crimes on Saturday, February 18th, the most of any day last year.  When looking at the social calendar for the month, this should come as no surprise.  Each year, St. Louis hosts one of the largest Mardi Gras celebrations in the country, drawing hundreds of thousands of partygoers to the city’s historic Soulard neighborhood.  Surprisingly, only 58 crimes actually occurred in the Soulard district, and of those, the vast majority of the crimes (39) were possession of liquor by a minor.

However, the more interesting information comes from weekends where high crime numbers would be less expected.  On average, there are 143 crimes committed in the City of St. Louis each day.  The standard deviation for the number of crimes is a little more than 27.  In statistics, about two-thirds of the population falls within one standard deviation of the average and 95% of the population falls within two standard deviations of the mean.  In my work with statistics, I have always found that the most interesting cases occur in the 5% that fall outside of the latter range.

In this case, there were eight days last year in the City of St. Louis where the number of crimes reported were greater than 197 (143 + (27*2)) and nine days where the number of crimes reported were less than 89 (143 – (27*2).  These seventeen days and their respective daily crime totals are listed below.

HIGH CRIME DAYS IN THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS

Crimes > 197

# of Crimes Reported

February 18

215

April 15

212

August 26

211

March 17

208

April 13

204

July 14

204

May 22

201

April 14

198

LOW CRIME DAYS IN THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS

Crimes < 89

# of Crimes Reported

December 25

71

February 5

74

January 12

75

December 31

81

February 14

81

February 13

84

February 4

84

January 2

85

February 12

86

What stands out from the above listed dates are three successive days, April 13, 14 and 15, where the total daily number of crimes registered in the top 2.5% of most active crime days.  What happened that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in the Spring of 2012 that would trigger an almost 50% increase in number of crimes reported each day?

A quick Google search reveals a few key events that occurred that weekend.

1)     Cards v. Cubs:  It was the Cardinals first series at home since winning the World Series in 2011.  They played the Chicago Cubs.

2)     Blues Playoff Hockey:  The St. Louis Blues played the first two games of the playoffs against the San Jose Sharks in St. Louis on April 12th and 14th.  While the April 12th game was an   uneventful Blues loss, press accounts show that the April 14th game was a spirited bout between the two teams.

3)     St. Louis Marathon:  The GO! St. Louis Marathon and Fitness weekend was held that weekend.

4)     Gun Convention:  The NRA held its annual meeting and exhibits at America’s Center.

5)     Folklore/Superstition:  April 13 was a Friday the 13th.

The influx of visitors in the City of St. Louis caused by the first four points listed above likely contributed to the spike in reported crimes (the 5th point is just for fun).  Below is a breakdown of some of the crimes that contributed to the 614 crimes for the three-day total and the neighborhoods with the highest number of crimes that weekend.

CRIMES BY TYPE

Crime Description

# of Incidents

Destruction of private property

75

Leaving the scene of an accident

61

Stealing items worth under $500 from cars

35

Stealing motor vehicle parts

34

Aggravated assault with a firearm

32

CRIMES BY ST. LOUIS NEIGHBORHOOD

Neighborhood

# of Incidents

Downtown

49

Downtown West

36

Walnut Park East

29

Jeff Vanderlou

26

Dutchtown

24


And then there are the days with an unusually low number of reported crimes.  Christmas (no surprise) and Super Bowl Sunday had the lowest numbers.  January 12 was one of first snowstorms of the season, which likely kept criminals at bay.  Another snow storm in mid-February likely contributed to the reduced numbers of reported crimes from February 12-14.  New Year’s Eve was relatively tame, although the number of reported crimes for that day do not include crimes committed after midnight.

While St. Louis’s Mardi Gras celebration and that crazy weekend in April had large numbers of reported crimes, that does not mean that those days were the most dangerous.  If danger was measured by the number of homicides, then July 3rd would be the most hazardous day with five murders.  Cinco de Mayo and August 29th was responsible for four homicides.

***The St. Louis Police Department posts crime data on its website each month, providing time, date, neighborhood, description of the crime, and geographic coordinates of the crime.  Missouri Wonk combined these monthly spreadsheets and then summarized the crimes by date, description, and neighborhood to glean the facts for this article.