When it comes to solving crime in Houston, it should not matter where you live.
But it does.
A KHOU 11 Investigates analysis of nearly 24,000 home burglary cases revealed large disparities in arrest rates from one Houston Police Department beat to the next. In some neighborhoods, police solved as many as 17 percent of home burglaries from August 2015 to August 2017.
In others, like where Mahendra Telang’s family lived, it was as low as 2.5 percent.
“You need to do better,” said Telang of how Houston Police handled his case.
Just four days after his family moved to Houston, thieves broke into his apartment on Briar Forest Drive in the Energy Corridor. They ransacked his place and stole a laptop and jewels. After filing a police report, Telang said he never heard from a detective or anyone from Houston police.
“No communication, not at all; no emails, no messages, no phone calls, nothing,” he said.
Another burglary victim in the same apartment complex said he had the same experience.
"After the policeman took the report, that's the last I ever heard from them,” said Mahmoud, who requested his last name not be published.
According to Houston Police crime statistics from August 2015 to August 2017, there were a total of 403 burglaries in that HPD beat.
But only 10 of those cases were solved.
“Two percent, that is, wow, that's very shocking,” Mahmoud said.
This map shows the difference in arrest rates for home burglaries across the city over the two years analyzed. Overall, the burglary arrest rate in the city was 7 percent. But in 18 beats, Houston Police solved more than 10 percent of cases.
But in 24 other beats, the arrest rate was below 5 percent.
The striking disparity left victims asking questions.
“What’s the reason? Is it budgets? Is it experience? Is it just having competent detectives?” Mahmoud said.
Those questions come with no immediate answers from the man who heads HPD’s Burglary and Theft Division, Capt. Glenn Yorek.
The veteran supervisor was assigned to the division early in January. He was not familiar with the disparities until KHOU 11 Investigates brought it to his attention.
“Being new to the division I’m learning as I go,” Yorek said. “You helped me out a lot; you did a lot of homework for me. Now I can look at those beats and I intend to.”
An officer shortage could be the blame for some of the low arrest rates, Yorek said.
“We're behind the eight ball for sure on how many cases we can actually handle per officer,” Yorek said.
As a result, Yorek said the department is forced to prioritize home burglary cases, working only those that have workable leads.
One of those was at the home of Tina and Mark Brown near Lake Houston.
Their Kingwood-area home is in the HPD beat with the highest burglary arrest rate, 17 percent.
Last January, Tina Brown received a frantic call from her husband.
“He starts yelling and I'm like, 'What's wrong? What's going on?’” Tina Brown said.
“I'm like, 'Hey, they're breaking in,’” Mark Brown said.
Home surveillance video captured two thieves breaking into the family’s shed and rolling away thousands of dollars’ worth of tools.
After calling 911 and giving dispatch a detailed description, the case was solved in under an hour.
“They had caught the suspects down the road on (FM) 1960,” Tina Brown said. “We were lucky, because it usually doesn’t happen that way.”