Violent crime must remain an ‘outlier’

by Pete Mazzaccaro
Posted 1/21/21

The talk of Northwest Philadelphia for the past week have been two car jackings. The first took place on the 8000 block of Winston Road. The second one took place less than a week later on East …

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Violent crime must remain an ‘outlier’

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The talk of Northwest Philadelphia for the past week have been two car jackings. The first took place on the 8000 block of Winston Road. The second one took place less than a week later on East Allens Lane. Both involved armed men demanding keys from drivers. And fortunately, in both cases, the victims were not harmed. At least not physically.

In both instances, the police were praised for their swift response. The Chestnut Hill assailants were caught. As of late last week, they were still investigating the Mt. Airy incident in which three suspects were still at large.

As someone who closely follows crime in Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy –  and since the Local launched Mt. Airy Local in November, I have been reviewing all the crime reports for both 19118 and 19119 to write our weekly crime report -- 14th District Police officers are right to call both incidents “outliers.” While thefts from cars are common, violent crime in both ZIP codes is extraordinarily rare.

As Walt Maguire reported in this week’s front-page story, “there were 123 cars stolen in all of Northwest Philadelphia in November, three from Mt. Airy, and 128 in December 2020, three from Chestnut Hill, which is not significantly higher than the same period in 2019.”

For most in Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy car theft of any kind is rare.

But such a distinction is of cold comfort to the victims of both assaults and to many who now fear a similar thing could befall them. While the typical theft of one’s possessions or even their car is terrible, it is not nearly as bad as having a gun pointed at you. Those who did so must be punished to the fullest extent possible.

As I wrote in this space last week, one of the most significant problems facing the city right now has been the dramatic increase of shootings – both fatal and injurious. The city set a modern record of 499 homicides last year and more than 2,200 people shot. These trends are being seen in big cities across the country, despite long periods of lockdowns and other stay at home orders.

Also this week, police arrested a suspect in the killing of 25-year-old Milan Loncar. Loncar was out walking his dog near his Brewerytown home when a group of men approached him in an attempted robbery. One of the assailants shot him in the chest, killing him. The suspect arrested this week was out on bail while he faced charges for, among other things, motor vehicle theft.

The city needs to do everything it can to make sure violent crime like the two car jackings in Northwest Philadelphia truly remain ‘outliers’ and don’t become commonplace. Our communities have enjoyed remarkably low crime rates in recent years. We need to keep it that way.

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