Spike in crime rate scares neighbors

HOUSTON Thieves are going to great lengths to break into homes in southwest Houston. There's been a huge spike in burglaries over the past year in the Briar Villa subdivision near Beltway 8 and South Post Oak.

When Arinio Bazan came home from work the other day, he noticed screws removed from some of his solar screens and screws on the burglar bars were also tampered with.

He said, "They do it in the mornings when nobody is here."

It's concerning, Bazan says, because so many of his neighbors have been ripped off recently.

One homeowner said, "They cleaned me out, cleaned me out."

This woman says someone actually removed the screws on her burglar bars to get inside her home. Not only did they steal a computer, a big TV and jewelry, but they also trashed the classic car which had just been restored and was sitting in her garage.

"(We) don't want to go to work because we don't know when they're going to strike again," she said.

Authorities say there have been six burglaries in the Briar Villa subdivision in the last month. Using our exclusive Eyewitness News Crime Tracker we discovered that the numbers have skyrocketed this year over last. Through July, burglaries are up 50 percent.

Homeowner Sonia Solano said, "We're really scared about it."

The Houston Police Department says it has beefed up patrols and targeted the crime with a special burglar apprehension unit.

The area is represented by Houston city council woman Wanda Adams, who said she was meeting with the police chief and would bring up the burglary increase, saying "I'm trying to see what can be done."

The homeowner's association does admit that it cancelled a contract for additional police patrols with the local constable earlier this summer. They say they had to do so because of rising costs. The homeowner's association now employs an off-duty HPD officer about 20 hours a week to do patrols, but the homeowners say that simply is not enough.

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