The hassle of vehicle theft is a growing problem for people in Dallas.
Crimes involving the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle are up 29% so far this year with 1,000 more stolen vehicles in 2022 compared to the same time last year.
If your car is stolen or recovered in Dallas, it may wind up at the Dallas Police Auto Pound on Vilbig Road.
Kim McCray from Mississippi was there Tuesday to get her Chevy Tahoe that was found in Dallas. She said auto theft is very expensive, even if the vehicle is recovered.
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“You have to have insurance. You have to get it towed out. I have to pay a storage fee,” she said.
Most categories of Dallas crime are down in 2022, but there are several exceptions and several locations where crime is increasing.
Aggravated assault that is not family violence is up about 3%. That includes incidents like a shooting Monday night at a downtown Dallas 7-Eleven where no one was killed.
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Homicide is also up 12% citywide, with nine more murders as of Sunday compared to the same time last year.
Another homicide occurred early Monday at a Jefferson Boulevard apartment complex.
Police Chief Eddie Garcia discussed the crime figures with the Dallas City Council Public Safety Committee Monday.
“What are we doing different to make sure violent crime is going down, especially in apartment complexes,” Councilman Tennell Atkins said.
Police brass said several efforts have been underway targeting apartment complexes including bicycle patrols and surveillance cameras.
A group of North Dallas apartments on McCallum Boulevard has received some of that attention.
“I have definitely noticed the bike patrols out and I think they're doing a really great job on McCallum,” Councilwoman Cara Mendelsohn said.
Garcia and consultants working with him from the University of Texas at San Antonio credit hot spot policing and special attention to certain higher crime grids for the crime improvement.
“No one is doing any touchdown dances. We certainly aren’t where we need to be. But we’re moving in the right direction," Garcia said. "The reality of it is, had we not been concentrating on those grids in those areas, we would have seen crime spike even more."
Some locations recorded increases.
“Those increases are concerning when we’re looking at improvements in a large area of our city as well. So, I want to figure out what that is and address those things,” Committee Chairman Adam McGough said.
Garcia said limited police manpower is an issue.
“The reduction of violent crime is paramount in this department and for this city. So, it's a juggling act to move pieces around the department. But there’s probably not a single week that one of my staff did not ask me for bodies to go in certain types of units,” Garcia said.
Dallas police have an auto theft unit that tracks and solves those crimes.
Back at the pound Tuesday, McCray paid $500 to get her Tahoe back after paying for a different vehicle while the stolen one was gone.
“I had to buy another car,” she said.
But she was planning to keep the Tahoe that was towed out of the impound lot Tuesday. She is at least one theft victim who recovered her vehicle amid a surge in theft.
Garcia said a new police academy planned at the University of North Texas at Dallas may help attract and train more recruits to expand the police force faster.
A fundraising drive is about to begin for donations to build the facility that may cost $150 million and take five years to complete.