From June to December 1976 30 burglaries were attempted in one six square block area off upper 16th Street in Northwest Washington. During the same seven months of 1977 there were four attempted burglaries in that area.
That 86 per cent drop in burglary attempts is the most significant result of a summer crime prevention project conducted by D.C. Police in the city's fourth district, according to a recent report to Police Chief Burtell M. Jefferson.
The project consisted of police going into people's homes and businesses during June, July and August, inspecting them and telling the tenants how to decrease their chances of becoming crime victims.
A total of 333 home and store owners initially agreed to let police survey their homes (84 percent of those contacted) fifty-two of the 100 tenants surveyed six to eight weeks later had complied, at least to some extent, with the suggestions made by the police.
Because of the program's success, the fourth district is planning a second project in the Mount Pleasant area this summer, and Jefferson recently met with all seven police district commanders and theircommunity relations officers to discuss implementing similar projects in otherparts of the city.
The project was set up and run by Sgt. Thor E. Bevins, 41, after he participated in the Crime Prevention Theory and Practise School at the University of Lousville in January 1976.
"Really our biggest prblem was getting inside the (residents') door," Bevins said. "Once we did that we tried to sell the people on the idea, makes a pitch I guess you would say."
"In addition to showing them things the could to tighten up the security of their home we tried to remind them of ways to help each other out, how to work with the community."
Bevins admitted he was surprised at the success of the program. "I knew it could work, but based on National figures I did't think it would work this well, " he said. "This people in that area deserve a lot of credit because they were the ones who did it."
Included in the survey area were: the north side of Kennedy Street, Georgia Avenue to 16th street; both sides of Longfellow street, Georgia Avenue to 16th street; the south side of Madison Street, Georgia Avenue to 16th Street; the 5500 to 5600 blocks of 13th, 14th and 16th streets, and the 5500-5300 block of Colorado Avenue and the west side of Georgia Avenue.
Within this area are high, middle and low-income housing, the majorityfalling in the middle, and both private and commercial housing.
"It's the type of thing that gives you a better feeling about living where you do," said Colleen Guion of 1204 Longfellow Street. "We feel much safer and so do our neighbors."
The Guions had their social security numbers engraved on their belongings; put new locks on doors and windows and had stickers put on the doors saying the police had given them security advice.
"Any program that makes people feel safer has to be a good one," said Phyllis Fauntleroy, wife of D.C. Superior Court judge John Fauntleroy, who lives at 1435 Kennedy Street. "I think we all hope the police keep it up around the city."
Crimes against persons - burglary, homicide, larceny, robbery, assaults, stolen automobiles - was down by 5 percent throughout Washington in the final quarter of 1977 according to police figures. In the fourth district overall crime dropped 15 percent - the most in the city - during that period, largely because of the crime prevention project, according to officials.
From June through November, the number of reported crimes against persons in the survey area and in an area surrounding the survey area dropped from 45 in 1976 to 25 in 1977. The perimeter area was surveyed in order to try and determine if crime dropped or merely shifted.
Six officers participated in the program. Manpower was unaffected in the district since officers normally used on school-related beats conducted the project.
Bevins concluded his report by saying, " . . . At this time, based on the findings of this project I am able to predict, with some degree of certainty, that this type of project would reduce burglaries in any area of the city."