Neighborhood saw crime drop by 82% after resident erected a BUDDHA

Neighborhood saw crime drop by 82% after resident erected a BUDDHA


Revealed: Californian neighborhood saw crime drop by 82% – after fed-up resident erected a BUDDHA STATUE

  • The statue is located on a traffic divider in Oakland’s Eastlake area 
  • It was put there by resident Dan Stevenson as a random attempt to deter crime
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A non-religious man fed up with crime and vandalism in his neighborhood managed to transform the area – with a store-bought Buddha statue.

Dan Stevenson and his wife Lu had lived in Oakland’s Eastlake area for 40 years and learnt to live with rampant crime, including muggings, assaults and drug-dealing.

But Dan’s capacity for tolerance expired when people began using a traffic divider with a space in the middle – visible from his home about 500ft away – as a ‘garbage dump’.

To deter criminals and litterers, the pair bought a small Buddha statue from ACE Hardware and fixed it to a concrete slab on the divider, located at the intersection of East 19th Street and 11th Avenue. The result? Some might say miraculous – crime plummeted.

Why a Buddha? Speaking about the effect of the statue, installed in 2009, on the Criminal podcast in 2015, Dan said: ‘Because he’s neutral. I mean, if we threw Christ up there, he is controversial. But Buddha, nobody seems to be that perturbed in general about a Buddha.’

Oakland resident Dan Stevenson installed a store-bought Buddha statue on a traffic divider (above) in his neighborhood of Eastlake – a random attempt to deter crime 

Dan purchased the Buddha (above) from ACE Hardware. Picture courtesy of Creative Commons licensing 

Initially, Dan hoped the presence of the ‘neutral figure’ would bring a sense of peace to the neighborhood – but he did not expect it to completely transform the area.

Speaking to the Criminal podcast’s host, Phoebe Judge, he said: ‘It was probably about maybe four months or something of him just sitting there being concrete. But one morning, I wake up and look over and the Buddha is white. Someone has come and painted him a soft white.’

From then on, people began ‘leaving little gifts’ of oranges or coins. One day Dan said he came home from work to find a sack of pears but had no idea ‘where they were coming from or what they represented’.  

The podcast revealed that people ‘from all over the neighborhood’ began visiting the Buddha, with Phoebe commenting that what began as a ‘truly random attempt to curtail dumping and crime’ became a ‘sacred place for members of Oakland’s Vietnamese Buddhist community’. 

Pictured are offerings of fruits and flowers to the Buddha. Picture courtesy of Creative Commons licensing 

Not only that, but after the Buddha was installed ‘crime pretty much disappeared’, according to Dan.

Dan said that locals know he was responsible for the statue’s appearance and sometimes offer him gifts by way of thanks, from fruit to wine and even bottles of whiskey. 

Dan admitted he had no idea why the Buddha has been so effective, citing superstition, fear, or respect as possible explanations. 

The decrease in crime was highlighted by reporter Chris Johnson in an article for the San Francisco Chronicle (published online in the San Francisco Gate) in 2014. 

The reporter asked the police to check their crime statistics for the block radius around the statue and found crime had dropped significantly.

On the findings, Chris wrote: ‘Since 2012, when worshipers began showing up for daily prayers, the overall year-to-date crime rate dropped by 82 per cent.

‘Robbery reports went from 14 to three, aggravated assaults from five to zero, burglaries from eight to four, narcotics from three to none, and prostitution from three to none.’

Chris asked a police statistician about the data, who commented: ‘I can’t say what to attribute it to, but these are the numbers.’ 

After the Buddha was installed crime in Eastlake dropped by 82 per cent. Above is a general view of Oakland 

The Buddha still stands today in 2023 – having had multiple upgrades over the years.

People added gold-draped clothing, placed it on a ‘rock pedestal’ and there are now three huts.

And while its long-term effect on crime is uncertain, it’s definitely popular. 

Noted as a ‘Place of Worship’ on Google, it attracts visitors from across the country and has gained a 4.9-star rating from 80 reviewers. 

One reviewer, Sarah Nichols, who visited the Buddha earlier this year, wrote: ‘The Buddha of Oakland is still here! I’ve been hoping to see it since I learned about it four years ago in 2019. I live in Lincoln, Nebraska, but came to San Francisco for my birthday and a friend from Alameda helped me find the shrine.’

Photos show various offerings placed within the huts, from religious symbols, flowers, candles, and fruits to photographs of Buddhas and LED lights. 

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