Austonia AM
×
becomeMemberIcon

become a member

(Roschetzky Photography/Shutterstock)

Property crimes were up in April over last year, but violent crimes were down, as Austin residents settled deeper into quarantine mode during the first full month the city was shut down to avoid spread of the coronavirus, according to a new report from Austin Police Chief Brian Manley.


The April numbers, released this week in the Chief's Monthly Crime Report, count the number of times police were called for crimes ranging from homicide to gambling.

They appear to tell the story of a city hunkering down and staying off the streets—with fewer crimes like pick-pocketing and shoplifting, fewer violent incidents, and more property crimes that are easier done with no one around.

There's also an overall 38% drop, compared with April 2019, in crimes typically encountered by patrols or neighborhood watch groups: weapons violations, drug charges, prostitution, gambling and other violations known as "crimes against society."

"It all has to do with people not being outside," said Austin police Det. Ken Casaday, president of the Austin Police Association. "They're locked up and scared to go outside. I think the more you see people going out and feeling comfortable leaving the house, the more crime you'll see."

When the lockdown began in mid-March, police saw an uptick in violence, which they attributed to tensions boiling over in the early days of the pandemic.

In April, violent crime dropped, dipping some 13% below last year's rate.

Casaday said those changes could be attributed to regular statistical swings, less reporting and fewer opportunities.

The sharpest decline in violence, both from March to April and over last year's numbers, came in simple assaults, which commonly occur during bar fights and muggings—no deadly weapons and no major injuries.

But with no bars open and fewer people roaming the streets, these types of attacks were down from 933 in March to 791 in April. The numbers are similar when compared with April 2019.

Casaday said the lack of nightlife activity is a clear contributor to that drop, likely short lived.

"Once you start seeing the bars open up, I think you'll see more of that," he said.

Property crimes like robberies, arsons, burglaries, auto thefts and car break-ins saw significant increases from the same month and time span as last year.

Manley said a large chunk of those are typically perpetrated by teenagers, who now have no school or activities to occupy their time.

"With the kids not being in school and a lot of the parents working, it's a good mix for property crime," he said.

Asked whether economic desperation is a factor, Manley said he hasn't seen that yet.

"But the longer this goes on, and the more people that become homeless or without a paycheck, I would expect those types of things to increase," he said.

Popular

(Museum of Ice Cream/Instagram)

Summertime sure does fly by, doesn't it? It's time to jam-pack as many summer activities as you can while there is still about a month left before school starts up again and the grind gets going. Luckily, Austin is full of places to visit that will fill your season full of memories.

Keep Reading Show less

(Tito's Handmade Vodka)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/12 oz sweet pepper-infused Tito's Handmade Vodka
  • 3 oz soda water
  • 1 oz grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup
Directions: Add all ingredients, except soda water, to a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a glass over fresh ice. Top with soda water and garnish with a mint sprig.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Thursday that reaffirms his commitment not to implement new statewide mandates amid rising COVID case counts. (Pexels)

The Biden administration is asking cities and states to use pandemic relief funds to pay residents $100 to get vaccinated. Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott reaffirmed prohibitions on pandemic protocols in a new executive order issued on Thursday.

Keep Reading Show less