HOUSTON — Violent crime is up all over Houston, including a concerning spike in unsolved carjackings. KHOU 11 Investigates crunched the numbers and found hotspots in key parts of the city.
“It’s a disturbing trend and it bothers all of us,” said Sr. Officer Jeff Brieden, with the Houston Police Department’s Robbery Division.
It happened to Terri Robbins last August.
“It was pretty traumatizing,” Robbins said. “Before I could get into my car, he jumped me. He knocked me to the ground and he got his hands in my pocket and was going for my keys.”
The attack left her shaken and needing a new ride.
“I let him take the keys and he took my car,” Robbins said. “I feel a lot less safe because of that carjacking.”
What happened to Robbins is happening to more and more drivers in Houston. KHOU 11 Investigates crunched the numbers and found carjackings are way up since 2019.
Last year, HPD tracked 1,216 carjackings. That’s 10% more than in 2020 when there were 1,108 carjackings and also up 20% from the 926 carjackings in 2019.
“The average citizen is just trying to go about their daily business and they get a gun shoved in their face,” Houston Police Officers’ Union President Doug Griffith said.
This heat map shows you the hotspots where carjackings are happening most. Since 2019, southwest Houston has been especially hard hit.
A less than 1-square-mile area in Chinatown -- bordered by Town Park Drive to the north, South Gessner Road to the east, Bellaire Boulevard to the south and Ranchester Drive to the west -- saw the most carjackings with more than 60 in the last three years.
HPD said it’s unclear why.
“I wish I had that answer,” Brieden said. “I wish it was something I could pull out of the hat and say this is the reason."
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Just three miles east of Chinatown, Gulfton is the second-most dangerous spot for carjackings -- near Hillcroft Avenue and Bellaire Boulevard. About 50 people were carjacked in this five-block radius alone.
Folks who live and work there are not surprised.
But even more eye-opening than where it happens is what happens after the crime. KHOU 11 Investigates found only 14% of carjackings since 2019 ended in an arrest. As of the end of March, 57% of cases were marked inactive with zero leads.
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“It’s definitely concerning,” Brieden said. “We want to do what we can to change those numbers.”
Solving the crimes could be the key to slowing down violent crime overall. The police union said each carjacking only helps fuel long crime sprees.
“They’re doing it because they’re going to do other robberies with that same car,” Griffith said. “It’s not a one-off. They’re doing it for a purpose.”