tl;drThere's no citywide relationship between crime rate and elevation in San Francisco. It's because there are other factors at work - like property value, income, tourism, etc. - in between the two. But there are a few discrete spots around the downtown area where it is at least partially accurate to say "Crime doesn't climb" - check out the last map on this page.
Crime Doesn't What?Dammit, I love hexbins. I love their flow complexity, I love their visual appeal, I defend them where necessary, and I use them wherever I can. However, sometimes hexbins don't tell the whole story.
Last week a couple of talented Bay Area developers put some of San Francisco's new open data to use, testing the old adage that "Crime Doesn't Climb" in the city. They compiled SFPD crime statistics in elevation-based strata and found - indeed - that the lion's share of SanFranCrime occurs closest to sea level. Recognizing a bit of simplicity in this argument, they went a step further and adjusted the numbers to account for the fact that there is simply more space - more crime-canvas, if you will - at lower elevations. The results were the same: lots of crime low, not much up high.
The web reacted with characteristic nuance and reason:
Because at it's heart, this analysis has already been critiqued by Randall Munroe:
Crime occurs where people - perpetrators and victims - are already concentrated. As such, any explanation of when/where/why has to account for population.