Parks in downtown, Hermann Park, Bear Creek Park and Memorial Park top the list of Houston parks with the most crime, according to a year's worth of Houston Police Department data reviewed by the Local 2 investigators.
Vandalism and larceny, including car break-ins and robberies, top the list of the most reported crimes at those parks.
There were 135 crimes reported in downtown neighborhood parks during 2013, Local 2's analysis of data showed. The area included Sam Houston Park and Buffalo Bayou. Narcotics and larceny were among the most reported crimes.
At Hermann Park, there were 99 reported crimes. Vandalism and larceny made up many of the reports.
Bear Creek had 55 crimes with larceny at the top of the list.
Memorial Park had 49 crimes with larceny and the category of "lost, strayed or stolen" appearing on police reports most often.
The "lost, strayed or stolen" category can be used when someone isn't sure if he or she misplaced a cellphone, for example, or whether it was stolen, police said.
Also on the list of parks with the most crime are Emancipation Park in the Third Ward and Thomas R. Wussow Park in Greenspoint. Emancipation Park had 45 reported crimes with assaults and robbery repeatedly showing up on crime reports. Wussow Park had 43 reported crimes with robbery and larceny listed frequently.
Many of the parks on the top crime list are also the busiest in Houston.
Most stolen items
GPS units, wallets and purses are the most stolen items during car break-ins at parks, a Harris County constable's spokesman told the Local 2 Investigators.
Car burglaries are among the most reported crimes at most big Houston parks, according to crime data reviewed by the Local 2 Investigators.
"You're talking about breaking into a car in a matter of seconds," Harris County Constables Precinct 5 Capt. Michael Coleman told Local 2's Jace Larson.
Coleman calls car burglaries at a park "preventable."
"It's a crime of convenience," said Coleman.
Crooks want an easy target, Coleman said.
"Anything they can sell, that's the main thing," said Coleman.
Prevent car theft -- Hide items
"Crooks will go after what they can easily see," Coleman said.
Coleman said if park visitors will just put items in trunks, thieves will usually bypass that car and go for another target.
"As long as you put your valuables in the truck or leave them at home, nine times out of 10 your car isn't going to be broken into," said Coleman.
Have you had a crime happen to you at a park? Tell investigative reporter Jace Larson on social media or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.