If you live in Isla Vista, odds are you’ve had something stolen from your house, a recent study claims.
A private study recently found that a section of I.V. has a higher property crime rate per capita than any neighborhood in the United States. The analysis, posted on walletpop.com, estimates more than 1,019 thefts will occur for every 1,000 people living in the area between UCSB’s main campus and Camino Pescadero. Thanks to this roughly 1 to 1 ratio between people and property crime, I.V. has gained the distinction as the number one place for theft in the U.S.
Throughout all of Isla Vista, the report estimates there are 383 thefts annually for every thousand people. The finding puts the community far above the national median of 34 thefts per thousand. Location, Inc., a Rhode Island information firm, compiled the data, drawing on law enforcement data from the FBI. The report can also be found on neighborhoodscout.com, a website run by the company.
Isla Vista Foot Patrol Sgt. Erik Raney said the community has a problem with theft, but he doubts it is the worst in the country.
“That designation as the number one most dangerous place in America for property crimes is difficult for me to believe because it’s really difficult to compare a big city with a small town like Isla Vista in terms of property crime,” Raney said.
Location, Inc. President Andrew Schiller said the study focused on smaller populations within cities and counties.
“We used about 18 proprietary computer models that we develop in-house to statistically estimate the number of violent crimes or property crimes for every neighborhood, or census track in the U.S.,” Schiller said.
Rather than studying entire cities or zip codes, Schiller used small groups defined by the U.S. Federal Census to find crime rates in specific communities in the country. The study looks specifically at non-violent property crime such as larceny or burglary. Robbery, which is a violent crime, was not included.
Raney said thieves in I.V. routinely strike unlocked houses, with home break-ins far less common.
“I would say probably 75 percent of the thefts and burglaries from residents are from unlocked doors,” Raney said. “The majority of those people that we catch were out here just looking for an opportunity. They knew there was an open door atmosphere.”
Despite Location, Inc.’s estimate that thousands of thefts occur each year in I.V., police reports show a far lower annual rate. Throughout 2008, police received 671 reports of theft. In 2007, 556 reports were made.
Schiller, however, says his models are designed to include thefts that go unreported.
“The models were built on reported crimes, but they’re used to predict the total number of crimes that we think there are both reported and unreported,” Schiller said. “A student may have their laptop stolen, but they may not report it to the police.”
Nick Batara, a third-year chemistry major, said he went to the police when his bike was stolen. When his skateboard was taken during a party, however, he said he did not report the theft.
“When you first come into to the school and you move out to I.V. for the first time, you don’t realize that people run around and try door knobs,” Batara said. “There can be a lack of awareness with the newer affiliates of the neighborhood.”