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Overall crime in Austin down during COVID-19 pandemic, but violent crimes are up

The Austin Police Association explains one likely reason for the increase in violent crimes.

AUSTIN, Texas — The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing people to make a lot of changes, and some of those changes are likely impacting Austin's crime rates.

According to Austin Police Department data, there were 1,451 fewer crimes in March and April compared with the same period last year, a 9% decrease. 

There were a total of 15,656 crimes committed in March to April 2019 and 14,205 crimes committed in March to April 2020.

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The reduction in crime is likely due to the cancellation of SXSW and the stay-at-home orders implemented in the Austin area.

But Austin saw an increase in six types of crimes: homicides, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, arsons and auto thefts.

Between March and April of 2020, there were a total of 661 auto thefts compared with 512 auto thefts during the same period last year, according to the data. That's a 29% increase.

Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday explained to KVUE why we're likely seeing an increase in these types of crimes despite fewer people out and about.

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"I think the typical statistics every year show that a lot of the auto thefts are committed by juveniles. And I think you are seeing the result of not having kids, especially the probably 14 to 18-year-old kids, not in school. And I think they've been left to their own devices. And you're seeing more burglaries, you're seeing more auto theft and crimes like that," he said.

Austin has also had six more homicides so far this year, compared with this time last year. Casaday said the increase is "concerning."

If you'd like to see crime rates in your neighborhood, visit the Austin Police Department's Crime Viewer.

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