I’m not quite sure what to make of this Chron story about crime rates in Houston and Harris County.
Crime was down inside the Houston city limits last year, but the FBI reported Monday that many of the crimes committed in the unincorporated areas of Harris County continued to rise, furthering a trend that became apparent in 2001.
Houston’s crime numbers met or bested improvements seen nationally. It was an improvement from 2002, when the city recorded increases in most types of crime.
Last year, the city posted a 3.9 percent drop in violent crimes from the previous year, edging out the 3 percent decrease reported nationwide. The city also reported a 3.4 percent drop in property crimes, outpacing the nation’s marginal decrease.
Homicides increased 8.6 percent last year, but Houston recorded fewer forcible rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, thefts, car thefts and arsons than the year before.
Unincorporated Harris County did not fare so well. While some numbers dropped — most significantly, homicide and auto thefts — there were increases in most types of crime, including rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries and thefts.
The FBI report notes that the county numbers “do not reflect county totals, but are the numbers reported by the sheriff’s office or county police.”
The Houston numbers were slightly better, marking a nearly 11 percent jump in robberies, a 5 percent rise in burglaries and a nearly 4 percent boost in larcenies and thefts.
Reported rapes during this period declined nearly 19 percent, while auto thefts dropped 11 percent and aggravated assaults dropped marginally, Houston figures show.
The bit that puzzles me is in the penultimate paragraph. The accompanying graphic does not go into that much detail, but it shows a decrease in robberies in Houston from 2002 to 2003 (no data on burglaries or larcenies). How that squares with “a nearly 11 percent jump in robberies” is a mystery to me.
Regardless, the overall trend is a good one, and one that I’m sure correlates with the real estate boom in and around downtown. The Houston Heights was considered a scary place to live 20 years ago, and I can recall looking at quite a few rent houses in the Montrose area circa 1990 with burglar bars on them. Not any more.