Rise in assaults, 2 homicides mar end of year crime stats in The Woodlands
The Woodlands Township Board of Directors received a sobering report on crime statistics in the fourth quarter of 2017, including a double-digit percentage increase in assaults as well as the verification of two murder-suicide incidents in October and December.
Montgomery County sheriff’s Capt. Allison Allen spoke to the township board during a meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 24, providing statistics and commentary about the fourth quarter crime report for 2017. Allen, who heads up the south Montgomery County Woodlands Patrol Division based in The Woodlands Township, highlighted three main areas of crime: homicides, assaults and robberies.
“There were 93 assaults, which is an increase of 19 percent (from the prior quarter),” Allen said. “The majority of those were family related.”
For the year of 2017, Allen provided statistics which showed 254 family violence assaults as well as an additional 129 non-family assaults. Allen said the definition of a family assault is wide-ranging, and can include several forms of unwanted touching such as merely grabbing another person’s wrist.
In 2016, there were 223 family-related assaults reported as well as 132 non-family assaults registered, according to township documents.
There were five robberies reported during the fourth quarter of 2017, including the robberies of two banks, a hotel and two other robberies of individuals, Allen said.
On Dec. 8, 2017, the Courtyard Marriott hotel was robbed, on Dec. 11, 2017, a branch of the Woodforest Bank was robbed and on Dec., 14, 2017, a branch of the Compass Bank was also robbed. For the the entire year, Allen’s statistical report listed 18 total robberies, which was a 25 percent decrease from 2016, when 24 total robberies were reported.
The most disappointing statistic of the quarter, Allen said, was two verified homicides in the township, both of which were what she called “murder-suicides.” The two incidents, on Oct. 6, 2017, and Dec, 12, 2017, involved one family member killing another before then committing suicide.
The discussion of the two murder-suicides led Board of Directors Member Ann Snyder to question Allen on why there has been a large increase in suicides. Snyder said she had learned that there were nearly four times as many suicides or attempted suicides in the township in 2017 compared to 2016.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office reported 80 suicides or attempted suicides in the township for the entirety of 2017, including 14 in both October and November of 2017 and six in December, 2017. In all of 2016, the sheriff’s office only reported 25 total suicides or attempted suicides.
Allen said nationwide, law enforcement has seen more suicides.
“It is a problem. I don’t know what the answer is,” Allen said. “This problem (suicides) is prevalent in society.”
Board of Directors Member Bruce Rieser asked Allen about the spate of car burglaries in the township, especially how to prevent them.
Allen advised the directors that public education is important, and she said residents should always lock cars, not leave valuables or other items in plain view in an unattended vehicle and use common sense when going to a bank for financial transactions. According to statistics compiled by the sheriff’s office, there were 438 motor vehicle burglaries reported in the township in 2017, with 147 occurring in the fourth quarter.
In 2016, there were a total of 410 motor vehicle burglaries reported, according to township statistics, slightly less than in 2017.