March 23, 2014

NRH chief urges residents to consider crime stats in context

Major crimes in the city increased 4 percent in 2013 from the previous year.

Major crimes in the city increased 4 percent in 2013 from the previous year, with robberies and rapes leading the increase in crime.

The numbers — some of which appear startling at first glance — need to be taken in context, Police Chief Jimmy Perdue said. He said percentage increases can appear dramatic with small increases in low numbers.

Robberies increased 73 percent, to 38, in 2013 from 22 in 2012. Rapes increased 63 percent, to 31, from 19 the year before. Auto thefts followed at a 13 percent increase, to 89, from 79 in 2012.

But burglaries dropped 16 percent to 285 in 2013 from 341. Aggravated assaults dropped 12 percent to 109 from 124. The homicide rate remained unchanged with one slaying each year.

The largest category of crimes — thefts — increased 8 percent, to 1,320, in 2013 from 1,222 in 2012.

North Richland Hills, with a population of about 64,000, is Tarrant County’s third-largest city after Fort Worth and Arlington.

Perdue estimated that six of the robberies were what he called “legitimate” and said three of the cases resulted in arrests. Many involved property taken in drug-related events, but they count as robberies, he said.

Two of the rape cases involved an assault by a stranger. Most involved crimes against children, some as young as 4, 5 and 6 years old, by people known to the children, Perdue said.

The one murder in 2013 occurred in January when Angela Lozano, 45, was choked and punched to death, according to police reports. Her son Justin Collins was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murder.

Perdue said crime trends should be looked at over several years. In North Richland Hills, the numbers show a downward trend with 2,338 major crimes in 2010. That dropped to 2,075 in 2011 and 1,808 in 2012, and rose 4 percent to 1,873 in 2013.

“We have been very good at keeping that number low for years,” Perdue said.

Preventing crime

Residents can combat crime through common-sense steps such as locking cars and doors and being aware of their surroundings. Neighborhood watch groups and residents reporting suspicious or criminal activity also helps, Perdue said.

Mayor Oscar Trevino said that he was not alarmed by the numbers but that the city cannot take them for granted. He said combating crime might get easier once major road projects are completed. Police will be able to travel more easily, he said.

“Although the numbers are low, we’ve got to keep them low,” Trevino said. “I’m glad we’re looking at them.”

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