Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce — hold your fire!

Angry drive-thru customer opens fire, wounding manager
A Brooklyn Park man was arrested today after he argued with a Wendy’s drive-through clerk about prices after midnight and returned minutes later to fire shots into the pickup window, slightly wounding a manager, police said.

I saw the above headline while browsing the StarTribune’s site today, and with a hook like that I just had to read the story to find out more about “Drive-through Rage.” All in all it wasn’t a shocking tale; kind of run-of-the mill. Maybe it was one of those deals where the guy in the car and the manager behind the drive-through window argued, things got out of hand, the manager suggested the customer was a psycho nut-job, the driver was offended and just to show the manager how wrong she was, he went and got a gun and acted like a psycho nut-job. There’s a lot of that going around these days, you know.

Anyway, I was going to move on when I saw two interesting headlines juxtapositioned beside the drive-through article, one above the other. The first headline read, “New York had lowest crime rate of nation’s 10 largest cities in 2005, FBI says”. The one below it said, “Violent crime up in Minneapolis.” Well, that was intriguing, so I clicked on the New York story first.

NEW YORK — New York remained the safest of the nation’s 10 largest cities in 2005, with about one crime reported for every 37 people, according to FBI statistics…

…The national figures showed that violent crime rose 2.3 percent last year, the first increase since 2001. But in New York City, violent crimes — which include murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — fell 1.9 percent.

Well, crime is decreasing in New York, but up slightly around the country. That must explain the increase in crime in Minneapolis alluded to in the other headline, right? I clicked on the Minneapolis story.

Minneapolis’ violent crime rate continues to outpace that of 2005, but authorities said Monday that a recent crackdown on juvenile crime is slowing the increase.

The violent crime rate from January to Sept. 11, 2006, was 25.8 percent higher than the same period last year, according to Minneapolis police. That includes murder, robbery, aggravated assaults and rape. The increase from 2005 was as high as 60 percent in January and stayed above 30 percent for most of the year.

Wow, a 25.8 percent increase — and that was comparing 2006 thus far to 2005 statistics — and the police say it could be 60 percent if they weren’t doing such a good job! Does this suggest Minneapolis is more dangerous than New York? Quiet, midwestern, progressive Minneapolis, compared to gritty, hustling New York, the city that never sleeps because you’ll get your shoes stolen if you do? Certainly there’s got to be some difference in scale, right? Even if the Minneapolis crime rate jumps up it’s still got to be smaller, per capita, than New York, right?

I went back to the New York story to see where those statistics came from. Turns out the source was the FBI, which releases an annual crime survey listing crime rates state-by-state and community-by-community. There wasn’t a link in the story, so I found my own way over to the fbi.gov site. It wasn’t hard to find the report and the statistics from New York and I even did the math myself to be sure I was looking at the same report that generated the one crime for every 37 people statistic. Yep, the New York numbers came out right. There were 8,115,690 people living there in 2005, and a total of 53,623 violent crimes reported and 162,509 property crimes. Add the crimes together, divide them into the population, and that’s what you get.

So what do the Minneapolis numbers say? Hmmmm, 5,472 violent crimes, 22,417 property crimes. That doesn’t seem too bad compared to the Big Rotten Apple. Let’s see, population 376,277 divided by 27,899 equals….one crime reported for every 13.5 people! That’s nearly the same as Dallas (one crime for every 12 people), the 10th largest city in the nation! (For what it’s worth, the numbers for St. Paul come out as 278,692 population, 2,442 violent crimes and 13,693 property crimes reported, or one crime for every 17.2 people).

Again, the FBI numbers are from 2005, and the numbers from the Strib article about violent crime in Minneapolis describe an increase in 2006 over 2005.

Hmmm, I wonder if there’s a connection between crimes in drive-throughs and Hennepin County’s “drive-through” justice system?

4 thoughts on “Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce — hold your fire!

  1. 8 million people in NY. I am out of touch with my geography. I might have guessed a million people; I had no idea their population was that high. That’s nuts. I don’t know that I’d last a day being in a place with that many people.

  2. We kind of thought the same way until we made our first trip to Manhattan back in the spring of ’01. We were amazed at how clean the city was, how friendly and helpful the people were, and how easy it was to get around once you got the hang of it. Now it’s one of our favorite places to visit. I go there on business every year and take one or more of the “girls” with me (see the Gotham blogs in the Nights on the Road section at the right). It’s fun, and we’ve never felt threatened in Manhattan. (Well, there was this one bizarre guy on a subway once, but in retrospect that was more amusing than alarming. And there was the “limo from Hell”, but all in all, we can’t wait to go again).

  3. “Maybe it was one of those deals where the guy in the car and the manager behind the drive-through window argued, things got out of hand, the manager suggested the customer was a psycho nut-job, the driver was offended and just to show the manager how wrong she was, he went and got a gun and acted like a psycho nut-job.”

    Kind of like how the pope calls the Islam violent and Muslims everywhere respond by telling him to take it back or they’ll kill him??

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