New Harris County numbers show many unsolved crimes

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – Channel 2 Investigates has obtained new crime numbers, which show many crimes in Harris County are not being solved.

Numbers for 2014 show Harris County sheriff's deputies solved just 3 percent of burglaries. In that year, there were 11,858 burglaries reported, according to Sheriff's Office numbers.

The father of one murder victim said the detective working on his son's case does not return his phone calls or text messages.

"It just doesn't seem like it's a priority for the sheriff's department," Tony Stewart said.

There were 68 murders in 2014, according to Sheriff's Office numbers. The clearance rate was 60 percent; that's up significantly from a 37 percent solve rate in 2013.

The percentage of solved robbery cases dropped from 17 percent in 2008 to 8 percent in 2014. There were 3,384 robberies in 2014 compared to 2,441 in 2008.

When it comes to rape, seven years ago detectives were solving 42 percent of rape cases. That number dropped last year to 10 percent.

The number of rape cases last year spiked to 433, from 281 in 2013.

Investigative reporter Jace Larson sat down with former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia to get answers. Garcia, a Democrat, resigned last week to run for mayor of Houston.

"I had an incredible population explosion," Garcia said. "We had some 400,000 new people in Harris County."

When asked why the percentage of solved rape cases dropped from 42 percent to 10 percent, Garcia did not have a reason.

"I can't tell you why," he said.

Garcia said until he left the office, he had his staff working hard to solve each crime.

"No crime is acceptable," he said. "I'd love to have a deputy on every street corner, but that's not a reality.

He said manpower is an issue.

"A hiring freeze had me losing staff through the recession," he said.

Garcia said he was not able to fill about 200 positions.

"You don't recover them overnight, so you have to make very calculated decisions," he said.

He said as sheriff, he's fought crime by adding more deputies to the streets, starting the cellphone crime reporting tool "iWatch Harris County" and by starting a cold case homicide squad.

"That particular unit has had an incredible success rate solving cases," Garcia said.

Harris County Sheriff's Office Clearance Rates

Population: 1,757,557

Murder: 60 percent

Rape: 10 percent

Robbery: 8 percent

Assault: 36 percent

Burglary: 3 percent

Larceny: 14 percent

Auto theft : 3 percent

Compared to Houston Police Department's solve rate, Harris County Sheriff's Office's numbers were lower in just about every category.

Houston Police Clearance Rates

Population: 2,219,933

Murder: 71 percent

Rape: 24 percent

Robbery: 15 percent

Assault: 38 percent

Burglary: 6 percent

Larceny: 11 percent

Auto theft: 5 percent

Garcia said a comparison between the two is not apples to apples.

"HPD has nearly 5,500 policemen and they don't run the county jail," he said. "I've got 3,000 total."

Many of the sheriff's personnel must staff the jail.

Though the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office serves a fraction of the population, it boasts higher solve rates than the Harris County Sheriff's Office, too.

Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office Clearance Rates

Population: 408,200

Murder: 100 percent

Rape: 46 percent

Robbery: 36 percent

Assault: 76 percent

Burglary: 12 percent

Larceny: 17 percent

Auto Theft: 25 percent

Garcia's office said he asked for 195 new positions when he went before County Commissioners for the 2016 Fiscal Year budget and commissioners granted him zero.

Commissioner Steve Radack, (R) Harris County Precinct 3, said county solve rates should be much higher.

"I think the public should be horrified by the numbers," Radack said. "The reality is that since Adrian Garcia had been sheriff, we've given him more than 560 personnel."

He also said the sheriff's office has been adequately funded.

"He had his own plan and his plan obviously did not involve solving crime," Radack said.

Garcia said his team worked hard to solve crimes and he stands behind his former staff and the decisions he made as sheriff to place additional deputies to the street. He feels the public agrees with him.

"Confidence in the community has grown as far as I can tell you," Garcia said.

If you have a story idea or tip for investigative reporter Jace Larson, email or text him at or 832-493-3951.