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Behind the numbers: Dallas wants to shut down businesses known as hot spots for drugs and violence

WFAA has taken another look at crime statistics around nuisance properties after a documentary filmmaker questioned our analysis.
City of Dallas

In November, WFAA reported on a City of Dallas practice to shut down businesses deemed “common nuisances” to lower neighborhood crime.

Among the properties the City has moved to close is Jim’s Car Wash on 2702 MLK Boulevard, which shuttered its doors last summer.

In the November story, WFAA looked at crime data in the neighborhood surrounding Jim’s Car Wash for a four-month period before the date by which the business was ordered to close and four months after.

This month, a documentary filmmaker claimed that the WFAA analysis was inaccurate and that crime actually increased during the period after the car wash closed.

So, we’ve decided to spend some time taking another look. In the original story, WFAA used data taken from the default pre-selected categories on the city’s crime mapping tool, which include homicide, sexual assault, robbery (business and individual), aggravated assault, burglary (business and residential), theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.

These categories are inclusive, but not exhaustive, of criminally abatable offenses that lead properties to receive a “habitual criminal property” designation from the City of Dallas. Other abatable offenses include criminal trespass, drug offenses and unlawful carrying of a weapon.

We also learned the Dallas Police Department does not populate the mapping software with sexual assault incidents, citing victim privacy.

RELATED: Some Dallas businesses are hot spots for drugs and violence. The City wants to shut them down.

To present a complete picture of all reportable criminal activity in the identified areas, WFAA has analyzed the data differently than in the November story.

First, we have now looked at the crime mapping data grid to include all offense categories listed above, plus attempted homicide, death investigation, assault (other), fraud, shoplifting, theft (other), motor vehicle burglary, DUI, alcohol violations, disorderly conduct, vandalism and “all other criminal” offenses as well. 

In the November story, WFAA used crime data from March 1, 2019, through July 1, 2019, to represent before the business closed. Crime data from July 1, 2019, through Nov. 1, 2019, represented after the car wash closed.

The crime statistics were taken from a 500-foot radius of Jim's Car Wash.

When including all the available information from the city’s crime mapping tool data grid, we found that there was still a drop in reported criminal offenses in the immediate area around Jim’s Car Wash, from 31 total reported offenses to 20.

Jim's Car Wash

RELATED: South Dallas car wash known as a 'magnet for crime' to close, city board decides

But, the car wash owner, Dale Davenport, says he actually closed the business earlier than the period of time we used to analyze the statistics.

He says he decided to close the car wash on June 6 after a temporary injunction hearing.

However, there is no documentation reflecting what date the car wash closed because the City of Dallas says it does not require businesses to register when they start or cease operations.

And, Davenport himself requested on June 19 at a City of Dallas Board of Adjustment meeting that he get an extension before closing his business.

“Before I close the business, I have some funding that needs to occur,” Davenport told the Board on June 19.

Given Davenport’s claim that he closed the car wash on June 6, we chose to run crime tracker data for a four-month period before June 6 and after June 6.

Between Feb. 6, 2019, and June 6, 2019, there were 23 total offenses. Between June 7, 2019, and Oct. 7, 2019, there were 32 total reported offenses.

That showed crime did increase in the four-month period after the time when Davenport claims the car wash closed.

2018 v. 2019

While digging into the crime statistics, WFAA also used a longer time frame to compare reported offenses in the 500-foot radius around Jim’s Car Wash to get a more complete perspective. 

We compared the last six months of 2018 and 2019 to see if there was a difference between when the car wash was open and after it was closed.

From July 1, 2018, through Dec. 31, 2018, there were 52 reported total criminal incidents in the 500-foot radius around the car wash. For the same six-month time frame in 2019, reported crimes reduced to 22 reported incidents.

RELATED: 'I have some concerns': Dallas mayor says of police chief's 2020 crime plan

This was found using the same expanded crime-category parameters.

The reduction comes during a year in which violent crime spiked in Dallas. In response to that increase, the Dallas Police Department received assistance from the Texas Department of Public Safety to add patrol to areas of south and southeast Dallas. The increased presence of state troopers included the location of the car wash.

Other 'nuisance' properties

WFAA then applied the same expanded crime category parameters for the other two businesses featured in the original piece. The Texaco at 11770 Ferguson Road was sued on July 25, 2019, but has remained open.

In the six months before the Dallas City Attorney’s Office sued the Texaco, the 500-foot radius saw 86 total reported criminal incidents. The total also includes one homicide in February 2019.

Between the time the gas station was sued and Jan. 26, 2020, there were 63 total reported offenses.

RELATED: Dallas mayor releases task force report to reduce gun violence

J’s Food Mart at 10041 Whitehurst Drive closed at the end of October 2018. The building was subsequently torn down.

Because the business has been closed for more than a year, WFAA looked at crime data for a longer period of time. 

In the year prior to closure, the immediate 500-foot radius in and around the former J’s Food Mart saw 94 reported criminal offenses, according to Dallas police data between Nov. 1, 2017, to Nov. 1, 2018.

In the one year since closure, ending on Nov. 1, 2019, there have been 34 total reported offenses, around the site of the former store.

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