Armed robberies are becoming more common in the city’s Southeast District that includes Butchers Hill, Canton and Fells Point neighborhoods.
Street robberies throughout the city have increased, but Southeast District is being impacted the most. Through July, the district’s street robberies have accounted for 19.9 percent of Baltimore’s 2,073. In 2015, the street robberies in the district accounted for 12.4 percent and 17.8 percent in 2016.
The Central District that includes Downtown Baltimore only accounts for 10.8 percent of the city’s street robberies and the Western District, described as a high-crime area, accounted for 5 percent.
In an effort to combat the crime, police are ramping up patrols, utilizing helicopters to hunt robbery suspects and initiating mounted units. Residents are also being encouraged to become familiar with their neighborhoods, watch out for each other and walk in groups or pairs.
The 27-year-old man shot on Boston Street in Canton last week, police believe he was a robbery victim. Sebastian Dvorak, a Ryleigh Oyster’s employee, was fatally shot in the head after leaving work. The incident took place on June 13 in the 2600 block of Boston Street.
City Councilman Zeke Cohen said robbery suspects are drawn to the relative wealth in some of Southeast Baltimore’s neighborhoods. In Fells Point, the median household income is $77,433, which is twice as much as the citywide median of $41,819.
The robust nightlife also makes the area an inviting target. People are known to leave the upscale bars and restaurants impaired and intoxicated, making them the prime target.
Canton and Fells Point are home to many rowhouses, which tend to take up a lot of parking. Residents and officials say street parking is a challenge and it only gets worse after dark.
Some residents believe that a high-quality public transit could have a huge impact on parking. More people would be inclined to utilize such a system, opening up more parking spaces.
According to police, juveniles commit most of the street robberies in Southeast Baltimore. Captain Jarron Jackson said juveniles are turning to replica guns in an attempt to intimidate their victims. He said children as young as 10 years old have been reported to partake in street robberies.
When the youths are arrested, they are only detained for a short period of time and end up back on the streets. Jackson said the situation was extremely “frustrating” for Southeast police.
“We’re trying to catch bad guys and we’re arresting the same juveniles,” Jackson said. “Obviously something is broken if we’re arresting the same person over and over again.”
Earlier this month, Commissioner Kevin Davis said problematic youths committing assaults, carjackings and other crimes are not facing consequences.
The threshold for pre-trial detention needs to be lowered and police need to work on identifying the factors driving crime among youth, Davis said.
Legislation is currently being considered by City Council that would impose a mandatory one-year sentence for gun possession within 100 yards of a church, school or other place of public assembly.
Business owners are urging their employees to walk in pairs and park as close to their establishments as possible, especially late at night.