Despite What TV News Suggests, Philly’s Crime Problem Really Is Getting Better

Plus, how do we get one of those $600,000 severance packages?

steve keeley as seen in various Fox 29 news clips about Philadelphia crime

Steve Keeley as seen in various Fox 29 news clips about Philadelphia crime (via Fox 29)

Check each morning Monday through Friday for the latest edition of Philly Today. And if you have a news tip for our hardworking Philly Mag reporters, please direct it here. You can also use that form to send us reader mail. We love reader mail!

Despite What TV News Suggests, Philly’s Crime Problem Really Is Getting Better

If your only source of news in Philadelphia is Steve Keeley and his ilk, you probably think Philadelphia is a lawless cesspool of human misery and malevolence. Many suburbanites I talk to are afraid to go into the city. They think they’re going to be carjacked. They think they’ll be hit by a stray bullet in a drive-by. But the crime problem is actually getting better. If you don’t believe that, you’ve been Steve Keeley’d.

While Keeley is busy every day plastering mugshots and crime tape all over your TV screen, chasing down every single crime story as if it were his last, some of us actually pay careful attention to crime stats. You know, stats. Hard facts. Objective information. Data.

And what those of us who do have seen of late is a steady decline in crime in Philadelphia.

According to the latest crime stat report issued by the Philadelphia Police Department, homicides are down 25 percent as of Monday when compared to the same time period last year. So far this year, we’ve seen 344 homicides. Far too many. But when you consider that the number of homicides this time last year was 458, you begin to see a glimmer of hope. Violent crimes such as armed robbery and aggravated assault are also down. Shooting incidents are down 23 percent, and the number of shooting victims has declined by 27 percent. When you crunch the numbers, overall violent crime year-to-date is down by close to seven percent.

Another measure of the crime problem in Philadelphia is the rolling shooting victim average, which tracks the total number of shooting victims over the previous 365 days regardless of the calendar. And based on those numbers (and assuming things keep moving in the right direction), we’re on track to drop below the pre-pandemic rate by early 2024. (That average peaked at 2,544 shooting victims in July 2021 — a violent trend we saw elsewhere in the country — and it’s now down 33 percent, to just under 1,700.)

While that’s good news about violent crime, property crime is a different story. Residential and commercial burglaries and theft from person and theft from automobiles are down a bit. But retail theft is up 29 percent. (Remember all that looting on September 26th? Didn’t help.) And stolen autos are up 87 percent, much of which can be attributed to the Kia/Hyundai TikTok nightmare. Overall, property crime offenses are up 18 percent.

Whenever I mention that people like Steve Keeley and whoever’s behind the infamous Kensington livestream cameras are irresponsible, I inevitably hear complaints like, “Steve is just exposing the truth!” and “Why are all you snowflakes afraid of facts?!” (These are actual responses to some of my previous Steve Keeley stories.) To be clear, I’m in favor of exposing the truth. Totally a fan of that. And I’m all for facts. The problem I have is when these facts or, in some cases, “facts” are disseminated without context or compassion.

Nice (Severance) Package!

When it’s time for you to leave your job, I hope you make out as well as Abram Lucabaugh appears to be making out. The superintendent of the Central Bucks School District (a.k.a. ground zero for the regional culture wars) just resigned. And it looks like he’s getting a severance package valued at more than $600,000.

Abram Lucabaugh

Abram Lucabaugh (photo courtesy 6ABC)

There’s even a non-disparagement clause that would prohibit the district from saying anything bad about him. And believe me, there’s plenty to say! Read more about this only-in-Bucks situation here.

Local Talent

Philly music great Kurt Vile is releasing his latest effort this Friday. Back to Moon Beach features some new tunes as well as covers of Bob Dylan, Wilco, and George Jones — even some Christmasy songs. If you’re a vinyl fan, you’re going to want this limited edition double-LP version. Listen to the first single here.

Alyana Gomez of 6ABC showing off the print version of our interview with her from the November issue

Alyana Gomez of 6 ABC showing off the print version of our interview with her from the November issue (photo courtesy Alyana Gomez/Instagram)

Turning to the small screen, I caught up with fresh 6 ABC anchor Alyana Gomez in the new issue of Philly Mag. I asked her what the worst thing is about her job and what the best thing on TV is. And she told me what happens when she sees a spider. Check out the full interview.

By the Numbers

1st: Ranking of Philadelphia on this list of the 50 largest U.S. cities with the smallest average home lot size. Philly’s average is 1,420 square feet. As for average home sizes, ours are the third smallest.

20: New charges prosecutors just filed against Danelo Cavalcante, the convicted murderer who sort of crab-walked his way out of a Chester County prison in September. Those charges stem from crimes he allegedly committed during his time on the run. The charges include illegal possession of a gun, theft, burglary, and criminal trespass.

0: Chances an incoming high school freshman has of getting into Masterman or one of the city’s other more selective schools if they didn’t take algebra in eighth grade. The problem with that? Many public middle schools in Philadelphia don’t offer algebra in eighth grade.

And from the Woah-Upset Sports Desk …

Last night, Villanova faced off against Penn at the Palestra in a matchup that Penn hadn’t won since 2018. The unranked Quakers were up on the 21st-ranked Wildcats at the half, 32-30, in a thriller fully worthy of the venerable venue. Penn held onto its lead in the second half, just barely, despite repeated ’Nova threats down the stretch. Penn freshman Tyler Perkins had 22 points to lead all scorers in the hair-raiser; senior Clark Slajchert landed some key foul shots in the final seconds. An unexpectedly delightful watch.

Tonight, the Sixers play a second straight game against the Indiana Pacers, this time as part of the Ugly Court Tourney, with tip-off at 7. Let’s see how many Tyrese can put up this time.

Former Eagles QB Carson Wentz, who just signed on with the L.A. Rams, had another baby girl last Friday; he and wife Madison Obert have three girls now.

Finally, the schedule is out for the MLS Cup semifinal that the Union earned a berth in. Here’s the bracket:

What’s Up in College Hoops?

On tonight’s slate, the Bucknell Bison stampede in to play the La Salle Explorers at 6:30; Temple crosses town to face at Drexel at 7; and it’s raptor-on-raptor as the Stonehill College Skyhawks visit St. Joe’s, also at 7.

All Philly Today sports coverage is provided by Sandy Hingston.