As the murder rate in Austin hits a 10-year high and social turmoil is bubbling, it is reasonable to wonder how dangerous the city really is. According to a report from the FBI, Austin could be more dangerous, but that doesn't mean it's the safest.
According to the FBI's 2019 National Incident-Based Reporting System, Austin consistently falls around the middle of the deck among 21 similarly-sized cities with populations over 400,000. The report presents data about victims, known offenders, relationships for offenses and arrest data reported in 23 categories with 52 offenses, as well as 10 additional categories for which only arrest data is collected.
The data shows that Austin ranked 12th in crimes against society, 11th in crimes against persons and safest for crimes against property. Four other Texas cities were included in the list—Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and Arlington—and frequently ranked safer than the capital city.
Of the 79,931 crimes committed within Austin city limits, 20,135 were crimes against persons, 7,294 were crimes against society and 52,502 were crimes against property in 2019, the report for this year.
In crimes against persons, Austin ranked at 11, below Fort Worth and Dallas, in fifth and 10th place, respectively. Houston and Arlington ranked 13th and 18th in the same category.
According to the FBI, 50.4% of victims involved in the crime against them knew their perpetrator, 24.4% were related to the offender and 25.1% were classified as strangers across the U.S.
Austin ranked below Dallas, Houston and Fort Worth, in sixth, eighth and 11th place, in crimes against society, while Arlington ranked 20th.
The report also showed women are slightly higher targets for a crime against society, a business or an institution at 51%, compared to men targeted at 48.2% of the time.
Crimes against property make up 59.6% of crimes across the national board, also Austin's highest offense. Fort Worth, Arlington and Dallas ranked above Austin in third, sixth and seventh places, whereas Houston came in 14th.
Offenders of crimes against property tend to be white (51.9%), male (61.7%) and between 16-30 years old (38%), across U.S. data.
Though this year's report only showed the data for 22 cities, APD said as other cities transition from using Uniform Crime Reporting data to NIBRS data before January 2021, more cities will be added and will reflectmore accurate data.
Crime in 2020 has fluctuated, seeing small decreases in crimes like gambling, pocket-picking and commercial sex acts. Some outlets have pointed to such small drops, citing Austin crime is improving year-over-year, or that the crime cost per capita, $1,052, is lower than that of other cities.
In another study done by MoneyGeek, Austin ranked as the 9th safest "large" city based on its low cost of crime per capita.
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Nicklaus Pereksta says he loves photographing enthusiastic people, and it’s why his latest gig offering pictures to people out on Lady Bird Lake’s hike and bike trail is going smoothly. He sets up his gear on the Pfluger pedestrian bridge and puts out a sign: Photos, $10.
“Overwhelmingly, this has been a really positive experience,” Pereksta said. “I get excited when I wake up in the morning and I can't wait to go to work.”
Bikers and joggers are excited about it too. On the pedestrian bridge leading to downtown Thursday morning, a man on an e-bike rode up and posed, wanting more photos.
“I posted the last pictures on Instagram and people loved it. They asked, ‘where is this guy?’” the biker told Pereksta. Bashfully, Pereksta, who also photographs landscapes and at weddings and other events, said he was happy to hear that.
Pereksta started these photos about a month ago, after the strenuous runs required in his valet job started causing pain in his legs. And though he has a passion for photography, he wasn’t so sure when he started working independently if it would work out.
He felt uncertain about the demand for it and was also worried about having lots of expensive equipment out in the open.
“Then like the first day was nothing but high praise and people are like, this is so awesome. This is great. I've never seen anything like this before. I was like, Wow, this was really good, like positive turnout. So I got encouraged.”
Now, he wants to expand and is thinking of contacting the Mueller Farmers Market about how to become a vendor. Still, he'll carry a connection to photographing on the bridge since the word bridge is related to his last name.
“It's a name my great, great, great grandfather came up with when he was marrying somebody. It's actually quite a romantic name. It means a joining of two bridges," Pereksta said. "So, I thought it was ironic that I'm set up on a bridge. I'm kind of representing my last name right now.”
Austonia talked to Pereksta about life in Austin, where he’s lived for eight years after living in Boston doing band photography.
What was your first experience with Austin?
I came here to visit some friends and they took me to Barbarella. So we went to Barbarella and I was like, ‘wow, this place is great.’ And then the restaurants and the food and going to Barton Springs. I was like, ‘this is amazing.’ Because there's nothing like that in Boston. If you want to go to a natural spring, you got to go to New Hampshire. There's no pools in the city at all. So there's lots of swimming out here.
What do you like best about Austin?
You go to any little quiet bar and there's a band playing that should be like onstage for a sold out show. Yeah, they're playing to 10 people, right? Like, one of the best bands ever and they're playing for 10 people, right? And just little magic moments like that are pretty fun. You just run into little random weird things.
What do you think makes Austin different from other places?
There’s no fall.
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Camp Fimfo Waco, a brand new camping resort, is kicking off football and fall camping season in style! With top-notch amenities, premium accommodations, and 10 weekends of fall fun, there’s no better place to have a fall camping getaway, especially if you’re a Baylor football fan!
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