Property crime rates are declining city-wide. Both home and vehicle burglaries are down over a 5-year period. A new police task force could be a big reason why. This year the Austin Police Department launched the property crimes task force which focuses on catching the serial burglars before they have a chance to hit many more homes or cars.
While burglary numbers are going down, Austin has still seen 350 car break-ins so far in the month of July.
Six weeks ago the Calvert family had both of their cars broken into. “They just trashed the car,” says Katrina Calvert.
Nothing was missing so they didn't report it. Then last week it happened again.
“I felt violated. I was like, ‘Okay who would do this? And why?’ It made it even more weird because they didn't take anything. Are they looking for social security numbers? What are you looking for?” asks Calvert.
After talking to police, Calvert learned it's best to always report any crime no matter how small.
“You never know who else saw something else,” Calvert says.
Making a property crime report--even if it seems insignificant-- can help APD's new property crimes task force stay on top of burglary trends in Austin.
Graphs from Krimelabb.com show a 8.46 percent per year decline in vehicle burglaries over the past 5 years and a 11.88 percent decrease in home burglaries per year. According to Austin Police, from January-June home burglaries were down 17 percent in 2017 alone.
The property crime task force is honing in on property crime trends, repeat offenders and expediting fingerprint analysis.
“We're able to issue warrants on burglars earlier in the process before they commit multiple burglaries,” says Austin Police Department Sgt. Matthew Sanders.
While Calvert's neighborhood feels targeted by burglars right now she hopes more police presence can help her zip code see that downward trend felt citywide.
“I'm hoping that we'll get increased patrols by the police to try and deter all of this crime because nobody should have to go through that,” she says.
Police say a lot of the vehicle burglaries they work still are people leaving their vehicles unlocked. They say many thieves go quickly from vehicle to vehicle until they find the easy target.
Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported burglary percent per year decreases. Those corrections are reflected in the story above.