Friday, September 30


The "Houston Chronicle" (registration required) identifies yet another travail attending the unprecedented evacuation of a major American city -- home and business burglaries while Houstonians fled Rita's wrath.

Law enforcement officials interviewed this week said there were increased reports of burglaries of residences and businesses between Sept. 23 and Tuesday. They also arrested an above-average number of burglary suspects, many of whom were caught in the act after alarm systems and alert neighbors notified police.

Harris County deputies recorded at least 201 burglaries of residences and businesses between Sept. 23 and 25.

"That's not normal. Those numbers are high," said Sgt. Terry Wilson of the sheriff's office burglary and theft division.

Many residents of the Lakecrest Village Apartments at 9393 Tidwell in northeast Houston returned home this week to find that burglars had kicked in doors to take children's clothes and food, televisions and videogame consoles.

"We used our rent money to pay for gas and food to evacuate, and we come home to see our (televisions) had been stolen and our food eaten," Tameko Wilson said.

And the crime statistics could get worse:

Houston police said they arrested at least 74 suspects, but they will not know how many residences were burglarized until they can compile statistics next month.

But at least the Houston Police Department made arrests after the city emptied out pre-Rita; the New Orleans Police Department saw their role in a different light post-Katrina.