Police say auto theft is rampant in Houston and violent crime is on the decline.

In a summary report shown to Houston City Council members on Wednesday, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner described what he described as a steady decline in violent crime in the city since 2021.

From 2021 to 2022, both homicide and robbery incidents in the city fell by nine percent, reported rapes fell by 18 percent, and aggravated assault cases fell by 8 percent, Finner said. Cases of human trafficking decreased by 32 percent.

Among the types of crime that increased during this period are kidnappings, which Finner said increased by 63 percent in the city. HPD’s preliminary report also showed that a total of 26,454 violent crimes were committed in Houston itself in the two years 2021 and 2022, which is in line with pre-pandemic 2019 numbers of 25,986 violent crimes.

On the other hand, according to the Crime Report, non-violent crimes, including burglaries, thefts and auto thefts, have seen a sharp increase in 2022.

The report shows 96,387 non-violent crimes in 2021 and 103,516 crimes in 2022. HPD pointed to the surge mainly in property crimes such as theft of weapons, catalytic converters and cars.

“The theft of catalytic converters by an organized crime group and the theft of firearms not properly secured in vehicles increased the number of reported car theft crimes by 11 percent,” HPD said in a statement.

HPD pointed to One Safe Houston, a city safety initiative initiated by Mayor Sylvester Turner, as a means of reducing crime overall. The initiative includes reforming bail orders, clearing backlogs in Harris County Court, placing security cameras in designated locations, and leveraging technology.

“Overall data shows that HPD’s crime-fighting efforts are working, but there is still more to be done, which is why the Houston Police Department is emphasizing the use of technology as a force multiplier,” HPD said in a statement.

In 2023, in addition to the One Safe Houston initiative, HPD said it intends to recruit and retain more police officers by awarding $10,000 singing bonuses to new officers, offering officer health checks and other perks.

“We also need you to take care of your neighbors, especially those who are less fortunate in business, those children who are underserved, who have no resources,” Finner said in an interview with KHOU after the meeting. “Let’s build a safe community.”

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