While crime in Wynnefield may be minimal today, long-time residents say this wasn’t always the case.
Paul Zimmerman Jr., has lived in Wynnefield for over 25 years and has witnessed shootings, thefts and even a murder in the past.
“I had a nephew that used to live here and he came out and found a man sleeping in his car, crimes like that kind of worry us, you know, car break-ins and house break-ins worry us,” Zimmerman said. “I haven’t heard anything recently, so we’ve been lucky.”
According to city data auto thefts in Philadelphia have significantly decreased to 486 in 2011, compared to 1,234 in 1999.
In Wynnefield, there were eight thefts of vehicles and thefts from vehicles between January 1 and March 31 of 2013, according to Philadelphia Police Department statistics. Wynnefield’s vehicle crime statistic is the same number of vehicle related crimes in an upscale but much smaller section of Center City stretching from South Street to the Vine Street Expressway, 19th Street west to the Schuykill River.
Wynnefield draws its name from Thomas Wynne, the physician of Philadelphia founder William Penn. Wynne built a home, Wynnestay, in the late 1600s.
Colbert Partridge, 58 and wife Lynne Partridge have been residents of Wynnefield since 1988. Colbert has been a member of the neighborhood townwatch for two years and spoke about the top three crimes he’s witnessed.
“ Thefts are probably number one, robberies number two and number three is excessive noise from St. Joe students living nearby are concerns for us, Partridge said.
Partridge mentioned that many St. Joseph University students are renters in the area and usually do not stay for an extended period of time. According to the city data chart, 2,293 rooms are accounted for in renter occupied apartments in Wynnefield, compared to the 1,994 Philadelphia average.
Khym Lawson, 52, is the block captain on the 2400 block of North 53rd street and a member of the town watch. She explained why a town watch is necessary.
“The neighborhood tends to be very quiet with very little foot or vehicular traffic. Those negative elements people think that no one is watching or feels it is necessary to do so,” Lawson said. “I walk the neighborhood. Should something appear abnormal or suspicious, I inform the police immediately and with whatever information and description we can get.”
According to the Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System in 2011, there were over 283,000 property crime offenses reported to Pennsylvania police agencies. This averages to 777 offenses each day.
In Wynnefield, for example, there were 12 home burglaries reported to police between January 1 and March 31, 2013, fewer home burglaries than the number reported to police in a section of West Philadelphia adjacent to Wynnefield.
Brian Holt, 35, recently bought a house in the on the 2600 block of North 52nd street and was a victim of a home invasion. He said he believes that the town watch keeps the neighborhood safe and he is please to see an increase in police presence.
“It’s always good to have the feel that police are around. Just because you’re in a certain neighborhood doesn’t mean your not going to have crime,” said Holt.
Police Captain of the 19th District Joseph Bologna, said there has been a decrease in violent crime in Wynnefield and he appreciates the community’s participation with his office.