The University of Texas Police at Houston (UT Police) asks its community to be on alert for violent crimes impacting areas in and around the Texas Medical Center (TMC).
According to Houston Police Department (HPD) crime reports, aggravated assaults and robberies spiked in the days following the Thanksgiving holiday. Historically, UT Police sees elevated levels of crime in the TMC area between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, and this year is no different.
While UT Police had a low-crime holiday weekend, the surrounding areas in the TMC did not.
“Please do not be lulled into complacency,” urged Captain Doran Preacher. “Shootings, aggravated robberies, aggravated assaults, burglary of motor vehicles and vehicle thefts are occurring in areas surrounding the TMC.”
The incidents being reported to HPD are violent and are occurring during times that are atypical of these types of crime.
“Violent crime is happening in the early evening hours between 6 and 8 p.m.,” said Captain Michael Redmond. “This is highly unusual, since we usually see violent crime occur overnight.”
According to police reports and UT Police analysis, there has been an increase in brazen aggravated robberies at restaurant locations near the TMC.
Redmond said that overall crime in Houston has been on the rise since the onset of COVID-19 and occasionally spills over into the TMC.
“As a portion of the workforce continues to work from home, crime trends have shifted away from home burglaries and instead to auto thefts and burglary of motor vehicles,” said Redmond. “Auto thefts and BMVs have been striking primarily during daytime and evening hours, and standalone garages and parking lots are frequent targets.”
In late October, a community member who saw suspicious activity promptly called for help, and led UT Police to make four arrests of juvenile suspects connected to a vehicle theft in the Pressler Garage.
UT Police works closely with HPD to identify suspects in crimes that occur on or near campus property. Earlier in the year, UT Police arrested two auto theft suspects targeting MD Anderson parking garages and who were involved in an auto theft ring.
UT Police investigates all reports of suspicious activity and informs the community about ongoing threats in accordance with Clery Act requirements, MD Anderson Institutional Administration Policy ADM1097: Emergency Notification Policy and UTHealth Houston HOOP Policy 2, Campus Security when incidents pose an ongoing or imminent threat.
In response to recent crime trends, UT Police have increased patrols inside parking garages and in surrounding areas.
UT Police's Uniformed Operations team also continuously reviews the crime reports taken by its own UT Police officers as well as information and trends shared by HPD. UT Police strategically deploy police officers – changing their assignments, focuses and methods – to adapt to the ever-evolving threats to the community.
UT Police leverage its entire Combined Protection Model to target harden, study trends and implement proactive strategies based on data to prevent future crimes.
“It may be unrealistic to have a completely ‘zero crime’ environment in the nation’s fourth largest city, but we work daily towards that goal and to ensure the safety of our patients, students, researchers and workforce members,” said Redmond.
UT Police team members rely heavily on the community to help keep the campus safe by participating in their safety and by being the eyes and ears around campus; this has proven to be a huge force multiplier to maintain a safe, caring environment.
Although the Texas Medical Center is safer than many other parts of the city, crime can occur. Every incident or potential crime that occurs on campus is a concern. Should you see any suspicious behavior or activity on campus, please contact the UT Police non-emergency number immediately at 713-792-2890.
Participate in your safety
- If you find yourself in a high-risk situation, remain calm. Do not resist. Take no action that would jeopardize your own safety.
- Be aware of your surroundings – especially if you are alone or it is dark. Avoid using headphones, cellphones or other mobile devices while walking, driving or jogging.
- There is safety in numbers; use walkways that are heavily traveled. When facing a safety concern, call UT Police to request an escort to get you safely to your vehicle.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in a place or situation, leave right away.
- If you see any suspicious persons or vehicles, contact UT Police immediately at 713-792-2890.