Car Burglaries, Homelessness Swamp Downtown

Thief looking inside a car window ready to steal something. | Image by tommaso79/Shutterstock

More car burglaries seem to be committed downtown than anywhere else in the city as concerns over crime and vagrancy in the heart of Dallas persist.

As of September 8, a total of 2,586 thefts from motor vehicles have been logged by the Dallas Police Department’s Central Division in 2023, according to the City of Dallas Open Data crime overview dashboard. Downtown Dallas lies within the division’s jurisdiction and falls within Districts 2 and 14.

The central division largely encompasses Downtown Dallas, which falls into City Council Districts 2 and 14, represented by Council Members Jesse Moreno and Paul Ridley, respectively.

Ridley’s district saw the most car burglaries of any council district this year, logging 1,774 offenses. Moreno’s district saw the second most, with 1,308 incidents reported.

“Downtown areas tend to see a greater concentration of offenses due to the greater concentration of vehicles in those locations,” the Dallas Police Department previously told The Dallas Express, calling such vehicle-related offenses “in most cases … [a] crime of opportunity.”

The high concentration of car burglaries comes amid ongoing concerns over crime, homelessness, and vagrancy in Downtown Dallas. As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the majority of Dallas residents consider both crime and homelessness to be “major” problems.

Crime rates in Downtown Dallas are notably higher than in Fort Worth’s downtown area, which is patrolled by a dedicated police unit and private security guards.

For its part, DPD is currently facing a staffing shortage of roughly 900 officers. A City analysis recommends about three officers for every 1,000 residents, putting an ideal staffing level for Dallas at approximately 4,000.

Meanwhile, the City has instituted several homelessness response initiatives to address the ongoing crisis of homelessness and vagrancy. One approach that has seen success is the “one-stop-shop” strategy of Haven for Hope in San Antonio.

Haven for Hope offers housing in conjunction with “transformational” programming like counseling and job training, as previously reported by The Dallas Express. The organization’s approach has been credited with a 77% reduction in homelessness in San Antonio and has polled favorably among Dallas voters.

Haven for Hope was recently visited by Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, but it remains to be seen whether a similar model will be deployed in Dallas.

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