AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Austin begins the search for a new police chief, KXAN took a look at safety moving forward, digging into crime statistics from the last nine years under Chief Art Acevedo‘s watch as he prepares to head to Houston. We found crime rates have dropped significantly.
According to APD data, robbery burglary and theft cases are all down from 2007-2015 overall. Robbery and burglary cases are down close to 40 percent. That’s despite a population growth of close to 200,000.
2007 Crime Stats (The year Acevedo started as APD’s chief):
- Murders: 31
- Robberies: 1,543
- Burglaries: 7,996
- Thefts: 34,318
2015 Crime Stats (Latest year available):
- Murders: 30
- Robberies: 937
- Burglaries: 4,931
- Thefts: 28,554
But some say more could be done. Rather than go to areas known for higher crime rates, KXAN reached out to those you wouldn’t think of, like Northwest Hills. With police resources largely concentrated downtown, they say “crimes of opportunity” are becoming more common.
Shannon Meroney and her family have lived in Northwest Hills for 11 years.
“It’s a very, very family oriented neighborhood. Lots of people out walking their dogs and walking with their kids and it’s just a very tightly connected neighborhood,” she said. Meroney said they’ve become closer than ever. Because they’ve had to.
“We have noticed an uptick just in what we call crimes of opportunity. So just car break-ins, sometime home break-ins by just people who are going by, systematically, and trying the door on every car that’s parked on the street,” Meroney said. “We have a lot of people who have security cameras that they’ve installed on their homes to watch for this kind of thing because it’s become so much more frequent.”
Meroney says between social media, Nextdoor and group text messages, incidents appear to be happening almost weekly. Neighbors are using the communication methods to share what they see to keep an eye out for one another.
Cuatro Goos chairs Northwest Austin Civic Association’s (NACA) Crime and Safety Committee, and says they’ve been more solicitors appear to be casing homes and crimes happening in broad daylight. “We have noticed that there’s a certain increase in the aggressiveness of some of the crimes,” he told KXAN.
Meroney agreed saying the criminals seem to be less afraid of getting caught, which certainly concern her. “We think it may be just because there are fewer patrols happening in the area because more of our resources are being pulled to the central part of the city, especially with events and festivals and protests,” she said.
While the NACA board members say they understand the need for those resources, the result does create a risk, especially during those well-known large events.
“That’s when we’ll see the upticks in the burglaries and that’s when we’ll see 40-min response times on a burglar alarm,” Goos said.
It’s a gap neighbors say with fewer patrols, they feel responsible to step up and fill. To learn more about joining or creating a neighborhood watch program in your area, click here.