A huge crime wave blamed on thousands of Katrina evacuees in Houston and other Southwest cities never happened, say criminologists who warned public officials and the media to be careful in attributing crime to former New Orleans residents, the Houston Chronicle reports. Criminologists who reviewed crime statistics said in the Journal of Criminal Justice that there was only a “modest” increase in the murder rates of Houston and Phoenix, and none in San Antonio, three cities that took in thousands of evacuees from storm-ravaged New Orleans.
The researchers did not find an accompanying rise in auto theft and assaults and other crimes, which they said would have been expected if dispossessed evacuees were responsible for a crime hike. “What we found in Houston was there appears to be an increase in some categories of crime, in particular murder and robbery, during the Katrina time period when the evacuees came to Houston. There was no significant change in rape, aggravated assault, burglary or auto theft,” said lead author Sean Varano of Roger Williams University in Rhode Island.