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Houston crime rate dropping?

July 22, 2011 2:38:11 AM PDT
Right now, Houston is on track to have its lowest murder rate in more than half a century, and that's not the only crime that's down.

There's a significant drop in violence, comparing the first six months of this year to the same time period last year. The most attention-grabbing statistic is the murder rate. Houston Police Department Chief Charles McClelland say if it stays on pace, the city could see the lowest since 1965.

Here's the comparison. So far this year, there have been 90 murders in the city. During the same time period last year, there were 143. That's a 37 percent decrease.

We went to a neighborhood in southwest Houston that had one of the biggest drops. It's just about a one square mile area. Last year, there were five murders there. This, year one.

Residents say they do feel safer. Unfortunately, neither criminologists nor the chief can say exactly what's behind the drop.

"I truly believe Houston is the safest big city in America and thanks to the 5,300 men and women who are going out every day and the citizens who have partnered with us and work very, very hard to proect themselves and their property," McClelland said.

There were other drops in crime. Robbery is down so far this year compared to last by 20 percent; aggravated assault is down but by just a little; and rape is up by almost 8 percent. The hard numbers of those crimes are always accurate, according to one expert, because they're often under-reported by victims. But murder, for obvious reasons, is one that is not.

Overall violent crime

    Murder: 90 compared to 143 from Jan-Jun 2010, a 37.1 percent decrease
    Rape: 375 compared to 348 same time last year, a 7.8 percent increase
    Robbery: 3,780 compared to 4,774 same time last year, a 20.8 percent decrease
    Agg. Assault: 5,965 compared to 5,982 same time last year, a 0.3 percent decrease
    Overall violent crime: 9.2 percent decrease compared to same time last year

Non-violent crimes

    Burglary: 12,461 compared to 13,766 same time last year, a 9.5 percent decrease
    Theft: 33,293 compared to 37,754 same time last year, an 11.8 percent decrease
    Auto Theft: 51,440 compared to 58,013 same time last year, a 12.4 percent decrease
    Overall non-violent crime: 11.3 percent decrease compared to same time last year

Total crime combined - 11.0 percent decrease compared to last year


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