(NaturalNews) Planning on visiting the nation's capital anytime soon? You might want to rethink your trip or, at least, where you plan to stay and visit.
That's because http://www.washingtontimes.com, over the same period last year. That figure includes twice as many armed robberies, according to the Metropolitan Police Department's figures, the Washington Times reported.
The increase in violent offenses comes following years of a steadily decreasing crime rate. Last year in D.C., records show, the city experienced the lowest number of reported homicides in about 50 years.
And while homicide was the only category of violent crime not to have risen so far this year (10 homicides have been reported in 2012, down from 11 during the same period last year), violent crime in general, which includes homicides, sexual assaults, robberies and assaults with deadly weapons, has risen sharply.
The numbers don't lie
D.C. police records indicate that the steepest rise in violent criminal action occurred in the 1st District, which is home to Capitol Hill. Violence there has increased 69 percent over last year, with 110 reported incidents so far, compared with 65 last year. The highest total number of incidents - 181 - occurred in the 7th District, near the Anacostia River, up 43 percent from this time a year ago.
Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier blamed part of the spike on criminals targeting people with smart phones and other electronic devices.
Lanier, in public comments Feb. 10 discussing the spike in crime, presented figures for robberies in 2011, which compared somewhat favorably to data from 2010. "According to those statistics, robberies with guns were down 11 percent from 2010 to last year, while robberies without guns were up 12 percent over the same period," the paper said.
In its own study of the stats, however, the Washington Times found that the 578 reported robberies this year are actually an increase of about 55 percent compared with figures from the same time period in 2011. Also, the number of armed robberies where criminals used a firearm has nearly doubled, with 252 such robberies this year compared with 124 last year. Finally, the "396 robberies citywide in January topped January robbery totals in any year from 2008 to 2011," the paper said.
Here's another head-scratcher. The department's online crime-mapping tool, available on its Web site, which residents can use to track criminal activity in real time, has been offline since the beginning of the year, even though police officials had promised it would be up and running again by mid-February.
You know - just like someone wanted the spike in criminal activity hidden.
Downplaying the uptick
City officials, naturally, down-played the dramatic increase.
"In the first few weeks of 2012, thefts were up over the same period last year -- and in a few neighborhoods robberies were also up," said Mayor Vincent C. Gray in his State of the District address Feb. 7. "Crime, whether it's petty theft or armed robbery, will not be tolerated in our city, period -- no excuses."
Only, robberies increased in every single police district, the Washington Times study showed - hardly an increase only "in a few neighborhoods." The increases ranged from 29 percent in the 3rd District to a 100-percent jump in the Capitol district.
In all, crime in the nation's capital has jumped 25 percent in 2012. Moreover, the rates have been climbing steadily for some time, so the current spike is far from an aberration.
"It is indefensible that Mayor Gray has failed to inform the public about this crime wave," said Kristopher Baumann, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police, http://www.wusa9.com. "Mr. Gray was very quick to take credit for any perceived drops in crime, so now it's time for him to take responsibility as crime is on the rise."