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After Republican congressional candidate John Loughlin returned from a trip to Arizona to get a firsthand look at the illegal immigration problem there, he was a guest on WHJJ's Helen Glover show.
Loughlin told the story of a couple who live in Casa Grande, near Phoenix, who told him that they had stopped going biking because they were afraid of being kidnapped.
"Phoenix is now the kidnapping capital of America," Loughlin declared.
Glover agreed, but then insisted that the distinction extended beyond the United States. "Exactly. Of the Western Hemisphere. Yes. It includes the Western Hemisphere," she said.
If you listen to the program you can hear Loughlin hesitate, showing some uncertainty over Glover's emphatic statement.
With good reason.
PolitiFact Texas addressed this issue in detail on June 18 when it examined a claim that Phoenix "is now the No. 2 kidnapping capital of the world, right behind Mexico City." It looked at it again when John McCain repeated that claim.
It appears to originate from a Feb. 11, 2009, report from ABC News, which has not responded to a request from PolitiFact to document its assertion. PolitiFact Texas made its own inquiries to determine how Phoenix ranks on a worldwide scale. They were unable to find any hard numbers to back up the claim.
It's clear that Phoenix has a serious kidnapping problem, which the police say is mostly related to illegal border crossings and the drug trade. There were 358 cases reported to the police in 2008, 318 in 2009 and 105 between January and May of this year. To put those numbers in some context, Philadelphia, which is comparable in population, reported just 9 kidnappings in 2009 -- 309 fewer than Phoenix.
There is no easy source for comparable figures from other U.S. cities; kidnapping numbers are not routinely listed on annual FBI crime reports. There is also no reliable source of kidnapping data from foreign countries. But experts from international private security firms said cities in several Western Hemisphere countries, including Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala, have more kidnappings than Phoenix.
Glover took an apparently made up statistic and took it a step further from the facts, making Phoenix the hemisphere's worst for kidnapping.
We emailed Glover late Friday, July 9, and asked for her source. She responded by email the next day, saying she would look for the source and invited us to do a Google search as well. Monday morning, July 12, at 6:22 a.m. she sent another email. "You are right, I was wrong," she responded, and said she was "remembering wrongly what I had read. According to an ABCNews report from '09, Phoenix is #1 in the U.S. for kidnappings, with Mexico City being #1 in the Western Hem. Shame on me for remembering wrongly." (The ABC News article makes no mention of the Western Hemisphere.)
So did Glover take a few seconds to set the record straight for her listeners later that morning? We listened to all three hours of her Monday show, available as a podcast on the WHJJ website. She touched on immigration, but never corrected the record.
So we'll do it for her and give her a False.
Podcast, "Helen Glover Show 7-9-10 9am," accessed July 9, 2010
Podcast, "Helen Glover Show 7-12-10 7am," accessed July 12, 2010
Podcast, "Helen Glover Show 7-12-10 8am," accessed July 12, 2010
Podcast, "Helen Glover Show 7-12-10 9am," accessed July 12, 2010
PolitiFact.com, "Dewhurst says Phoenix has more kidnappings than any other city in the world except for Mexico City," accessed July 9, 2010
ABC News, Kidnapping capital of the U.S.A.; Washington too concerned with al Qaeda terrorists to care, officials say, Feb. 11, 2009
Emails, Helen Glover, talk-radio host, WHJJ, July 10 and 12, 2010
Email, Philadelphia Police Department, July 15, 2010
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