KPRC 2 Investigates analyzed nearly 25,000 robberies reported in Houston, Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties over the last two years. While robberies are trending down, hundreds of these crimes occur every day in our region.
Below is a map of 17,901 robberies reported to the city of Houston in 2019-2020. The crimes are broken down by zip code. The darker the color on the map, the higher the number of robberies reported in the area.
‘It’s changed my life.’
The crime of robbery involves violence and for many victims can be a life-altering event.
Sarah H. believes she was targeted leaving a bank.
“I guess they were just looking for an easy target and I’m a young female and it’s daytime,” said Sarah.
Sarah lives in a gated community in the Heights area and surveillance video shows a black Mercedes following her into the neighborhood. After Sarah pulls into her garage, a man jumps out of the Mercedes’ passenger seat and runs toward her.
“He pinned me on the floor inside the foyer of my home. Luckily, my husband was home and he heard all the commotion,” she said.
Sarah said her purse got tangled in her jacket and her husband chased off the robber before he could get away with anything. Watch the surveillance video of the crime below.
“We’re getting a lot of individual robberies and our businesses have been going back up since COVID is at bay a little bit,” said commander of HPD’s robbery division, Tinsley Guinn-Shaver.
Guinn-Shaver said robberies tend to be higher in areas where dense population mixes with retail and restaurants. She also warns many robbers will stake out restaurants, shopping malls and banks looking for victims.
“People do look for things they want and then they will target you and follow you and fight you to get it or put your family at risk,” said Guinn-Shaver. “A lot of people have been targeted around shopping centers and restaurants because of watches and jewelry.”
Houston entrepreneur Taseer Badar believes he was targeted at a restaurant and followed to his Memorial-area home.
“It’s changed my life, how my family views things have changed,” said Badar.
Surveillance video shows three masked robbers running into Badar’s garage before hitting, kicking and threatening him with a gun. Badar fought with the men, who were also demanding he unlock the door to his home.
“Literally I didn’t know, at that moment, if I would be sitting here with you today,” said Badar.
The crime also spurred Badar to join the board of Houston Crime Stoppers. This crime was also captured by surveillance cameras.
Beyond city limits
The number of reported robberies drops dramatically outside the city. KPRC 2 reviewed a database of 5,561 robberies reported in Harris County in 2019 and 2020. That data showed two areas with a higher number of reported robberies. Zip code 77090, an area north of the tollway off I-45 in 77090 showed 530 robberies in 2 years, followed by 77015, an area off I-10 near Channelview and Cloverleaf, with 397 reported robberies.
In the suburbs, the numbers are even lower. We reviewed a database of 301 robberies reported in Fort Bend County. Zip code 77498, an area north of Highway 90 along Highway 6, had 44 reported robberies in 2 years, which was higher than other zip codes in the county. A database of 77 robberies reported in Montgomery County showed an area off I-45 covering a chunk of The Woodlands in zip code 77380 as having 16 robberies.
Gender, time of day and age
Don’t be distracted
A corporal with the Harris County Precinct 1 Constable’s Office, Toni Mascione said robbers look for people who aren’t paying attention. Mascione teaches crime prevention and Rape Aggression Defense Systems, R.A.D., for Precinct 1.
“They’re looking for someone that’s not paying attention, that’s the first thing. They’re also looking for someone that’s distracted or has a lot of things in their hands,” said Mascione. “If you look like somebody that is aware of what’s going on, your head is up, you’re walking with some confidence, then you’re probably not the prime target for somebody to come after.”
Mascione also showed us some simple techniques to get away from someone trying to rob you.
Got a tip?
Houston police started seeing robbery numbers decrease in the city shortly after the creation of a website in 2016 dedicated to sharing surveillance videos with the public.
“We’ve had an increase of over 200-percent of tips being relayed to us,” said Guinn-Shaver. “Sometimes you have the actual suspect themselves calling up here and saying, ‘I just saw myself on the robbery channel.’”
The idea came from HPD senior police officer Jeff Brieden.
“We had this influx of videos that just hadn’t been seen by the public,” said Brieden. “Now we have a database where the public can go.”
Brieden works to post at least two robbery videos a day, hoping to generate leads. Brieden also created a YouTube channel and social media profiles dedicated to showing the public these videos. Neighboring police departments now contact HPD with their videos and for help in identifying crooks that have hit their areas. Brieden said beyond generating tips, he also hopes people will learn some of the tactics robbers use to target victims.
“My hope is that they’re watching them and thinking, ‘ok, what can I do differently to keep this from happening to me,’” said Brieden.
If you have a tip about a robbery, please call Houston Crime Stoppers at (713) 222-TIPS.