Violent crime rates continue to spike across Houston, while number of officers on patrol shrinks

Saturday, July 3, 2021
13 Investigates: Crime spikes while HPD force shrinks
The 13 Investigates team took a dive into the number of crimes reported in Houston so far this year and compared the data to years past in hopes of determining where more officers are needed in the city.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As Houston faces what city leaders admit is the worst crime spike in years, a 13 Investigates look at the current trend shows how hard the fight against crime will be in the coming days.

We tracked every reported crime in the city of Houston starting in 2019. Examining crime by zip code, the data showed many areas where total crime is up 30% or more year-to-date compared to records from 2019 (before the pandemic).

That means virtually all Houstonians are feeling the change, and officials said there are few areas where HPD commanders can shift officers to move them towards the crime hot spots.

City statistics show response times for police have also been dramatically slower. All of this comes at a time where there are 97 fewer officers on Houston's streets than this time last year.

Despite ongoing cadet classes, the Houston Police Officer's Union said the shrinking force is due to increasing retirements.

See how crime has changed since 2019 in your neighborhood.

From Jan. to May 2019, 90,916 crimes were reported to the Houston Police Department, according to data from the city.

This year, during the same time frame, there have been 103,248 crimes reported.

Aggravated assaults are up 39% this year compared to in 2019.

One aggravated assault is reported in the city every 28 minutes.

Research by the 13 Investigates team shows those serious assaults are still climbing, but more slowly.

Aggravated assaults are only up 4% compared to 2020.

Data shows that weapon violations are also up this year, with 87% more reported in 2021 compared to 2019. These are usually cases where someone who is prohibited from carrying a gun is found with one, like felons or minors, for example.

Theft of car parts, like catalytic converters, are reportedly up 114%.

The crimes that are up the most compared to 2019 are murder, sexual assault with an object, welfare fraud, gambling equipment violations, theft of motor vehicle accessory and weapons law violations.

Some crimes are actually lower than pre-pandemic times, according to our 13 Investigates analysis.

In 2019, there were 3,579 robberies reported to HPD during Jan. through May, compared to the 3,372 robberies reported during the same time frame this year.

Theft from a motor vehicle is also down 29% compared to before the pandemic.

There were 12,879 thefts from motor vehicles reported during the first five months of 2019 compared to just 9,164 reported during this year through May.

Breaking and entering, simple assault, drug or narcotics violations and theft from a building are some of the other crimes that are down this year compared to before the pandemic.

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