As the fourth largest city in the country with almost 2.2 million residents, Houston has higher than average crime rates much like other major metropolitan areas in the United States. The rate of violent crimes is more than 2.5 times the national rate, and the occurrence of property crimes is nearly double the national rate. Compared to statistics from the previous year, Houston experienced an increase in crime rates in most categories, especially when it comes to violent crimes.
In 2014 there were 242 murders in Houston, which is 28 more homicides than the city recorded the previous year.
Rapes and Sexual Assaults
2,640 rapes and sexual assaults were reported in Houston in 2014. It is hard to determine the change compared to previous years, as there is insufficient data to account for the new guidelines in how the FBI defines rape and sexual assault.
9,993 robberies occurred in the city in 2014. This is an increase over the 9,891 robberies that were reported in 2013.
Houston recorded 10,300 assaults in 2014. This figure is slightly more than the 10,270 aggravated assaults that occurred in the city during the previous year.
There were 23,867 burglaries reported throughout Houston in 2014. This statistic is slightly higher than the 23,733 burglaries recorded in 2013.
75,220 incidences of theft were recorded in 2014.This figure is higher than the 73,591 thefts that occurred the previous year.
Motor Vehicle Theft
There were 13,640 accounts of motor vehicle theft in Houston during 2014. In 2013, the number of auto thefts was 13,595.
Violent Crime Per Capita
Data from 2014 shows that the violent crime rate in Houston was 1,051 per 100,000 residents. The average violent crime rate for the nation is 365.5 per 100,000 residents. Houston’s violent crime rate is more than double the national average, but it is not on the top 10 list of cities in America with the highest violent crime rate. It is estimated that residents of Houston have a 1 in 95 chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime. Residents living elsewhere in Texas have a 1 in 245 chance of becoming a victim of violent crime.
Property Crime Per Capita
Based on statistics from 2014, the property crime rate in Houston is 5,134 per 100,000 residents. The national average for property crimes across the country is 2,730 per 100,000 residents. It is estimated that residents of Houston have a 1 in 19 chance of being the victim of a property crime. In other parts of Texas, the chances of being a victim of property crime is 1 in 31.
Crime Focus for the Future
While officials are happy that property crime rates fell in 2014, the increase in violent crimes is alarming. Tentative stats from the first half of 2015 report that murder rates have skyrocketed; through the first six months of 2014 there was 100 murders—the same time period of 2015 recorded 144 murders. The Houston police chief announced that there were no noticeable trends or patterns that could explain the spike in murders. The city is not alone in experiencing a huge increase in murder rates—more than 30 other metropolitan areas around the U.S. have reported the same thing.
One thing that has been noticed in Houston is the fact that gun violence has been on the rise, which may contribute to the sharp rise in murder rates. Houston is one of the largest cities in the country, and it has been noted that the drug trade in the city has grown; people who distribute and sell drugs are more likely to have connections to street gangs and drug cartels and also life a life that is more prone to violence.
Going into 2016, Houston law enforcement and city officials plan to increase policing and examine current policies to see what can be done to curb the violent crime rates. Some high ranking officials believe that a key to reducing violence in the city is stricter hand gun control. Unfortunately, many violent crimes like homicide are hard to predict, and since they are usually committed under extreme emotions or due to financial motivation they can be very hard to prevent.