Philly’s Murder Count About to Exceed Last Year’s, With a Whole Month to Go

Rapes and aggravated assaults involving guns are up as well.

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[Update 4:30 p.m.] Since we posted the story, two more homicides have been reported:

[Original 3 pm] It has been quite a year so far here in Philadelphia. From the Pope Francis visit to the election of a progressive new mayor to an influx of new businesses, ideas, investments and millennials, Philadelphia seems better and more poised for greatness than ever. But then you get to the bad news, which is never in short supply. Among those less-reassuring facts: Our homicide numbers are climbing.

As of Monday afternoon, Philadelphia had seen 247 homicide victims since the start of the calendar year. If you take a look at the Philadelphia Police Department’s website, where these numbers are updated daily, you’ll see a bright green downward-facing arrow next to our real-time murder count along with another statistic, indicating that the bodycount is down 32 percent year-to-date. But when you look a little bit closer, you’ll realize that this is only when compared to 2007, a year when we saw 391 murder victims.

In 2014, there were 248 homicide victims by year’s end, meaning that once two more bodies drop this year, we’ll have exceeded last year’s murder count. That’s with more than a month left in 2015. Sadly, we can’t expect to make it through Thanksgiving (or maybe even Monday night) without surpassing the 2014 numbers. We’ve already topped the number of homicides we had in 2013, when there were 246 killings.

The less-scary news? There’s still a good chance this will be the third consecutive year that ends with fewer than 300 homicides in the city — a rare, sustained accomplishment in Philadelphia since crime began to spike in the late 1960s.

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Robberies are down slightly over this time last year, but other violent crime categories have seen increases as well.

As of November 15th, there were 1,124 rapes reported in Philadelphia compared to 1,054 on the same same date in 2014, for an increase of seven percent. During the same time, there have been 2,020 reported aggravated assaults involving a firearm. That’s up nine percent when compared to the same period in 2014, when there were 1,849 such assaults reported. The Tioga-Nicetown section of Philadelphia has the highest violent crime rate by far, with a rate of 2.39 violent crimes per 1,000 residents. Next up is Kensington, with a violent crime rate of 1.4.

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When you look at property crime, the situation seems far less dire. Reported property crimes are down seven percent across the board so far this year, with sharp decreases in both residential and commercial burglary and auto thefts, no doubt thanks in part to increased video surveillance or, perhaps more importantly, increased awareness that everything is under video surveillance. The worst areas for property crime, based on property crime rate per 1,000 residents through mid November? Northern Liberties, Port Richmond and Center City — in that order.