Despite some isolated high-profile incidents, property and violent crimes have actually dropped in Stone Oak so far in 2018 compared to the first six months of last year, according to police.
Adding Encino Park, reports of criminal activity across the entire far North Side show only a minuscule bump over the same time frame in 2017, according to San Antonio Police Department figures.
“I’m certainly concerned about some of the higher-visibility crimes that have taken place over the last couple of months, but I am glad that SAPD is reporting that crime is down overall in Stone Oak from last year,” District 9 Councilman John Courage said.
The councilman said data doesn’t suggest a new police substation is required north of Loop 1604, but he would support the idea if the need ever arose.
In June, a WOAI-TV news broadcast asked whether lawbreaking was trending upward on the far North Side. The report followed a drive-by shooting in late May at a retail center on eastbound Loop 1604, near Blanco Road.
There weren’t any injuries, and no suspect has been identified.
SAPD SERVICE CALLS
SOURCE: San Antonio
“I’m certainly concerned about some of the higher-visibility crimes that have taken place over the last couple of months, but I am glad that SAPD is reporting that crime is down overall in Stone Oak from last year.” — District 9 Councilman John Courage
Only days apart, another drive-by was reported at a bar off Redland Road and U.S. 281. One person was injured by broken glass; no arrests were reported by press time.
However, gunfire isn’t an everyday occurrence in the neighborhoods, say SAPD investigators.
Sgt. Blake Jackson of San Antonio Fear Free Environment, a specialized SAPD unit, said those incidents are outliers and don’t indicate a significant local trend.
According to city records, greater Stone Oak and Encino Park areas are included in three police patrol districts.
Service calls totaled 2,248 from Jan. 1 to June 20, 2017, in patrol districts 3160 and 3170, which cover neighborhoods west of 281, figures show.
The calls for service dropped to 2,047 in the same time frame this year across those two districts.
Total service calls for burglaries, criminal mischief and thefts numbered 3,370 across all three patrol districts Jan. 1 to June 20, 2017.
During the same period this year, those districts together had 3,380 service calls — only 10 more.
Service calls don’t represent actual crimes, only episodes where officers are dispatched to investigate whether an offense has occurred. Many are later termed “unfounded.”
Jackson said crime trends in Stone Oak and Encino Park are no different than most other parts of the growing city.
“If you plot this data on a map, it’s pretty much all over the place,” Jackson added.
Thefts make up a large majority of service calls, with burglaries and vehicle break-ins following far behind.
“The stats don’t show any increase in crime,” said Art Downey, Stone Oak Property Owners Association board chairman. “There’s no increase in calls in Stone Oak.”
Still, a few far North Siders said on social media they feel crime is rising; others commented that nothing significant is happening.
A former resident wrote on Stone Oak Info’s Facebook page about thieves breaking into two vehicles at her household at separate times.
“I have moved out of the area, but I’m sure it doesn’t make a difference because it’s probably all over town,” she added.
Another denizen related a different perspective.
“We may have a few in a week, but then nothing for months or years; whereas different areas of town have a few per week, every week,” the woman noted on the same site.
Vigilance is still key, Jackson said, adding many people take for granted the sense of security offered by gated communities across the far North Side.
“Just because you live in a gated complex or neighborhood — not to say they aren’t safe — (but it) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful,” he added.
The sergeant urged everyone to take basic precautions, including always hiding valuables left in autos, and being aware of surroundings.
“More often than not, people leave the car unlocked,” he added.
The same WOAI report also asked whether San Antonio should get a police substation north of 1604 to more effectively protect highly dense, newer communities.
The North substation on Jones Maltsberger Road currently covers Stone Oak and Encino Park, the Northeast Side and north of Alamo Heights.
There have been no formal discussions at the city level about developing a nearby substation in Stone Oak or Encino Park.
Jackson said SAFFE officers and partnerships with community organizations help San Antonio police stay on top of neighborhoods’ public-safety issues.
Downey noted his community experiences a “reasonable response time” from police, and praised regular patrols and SAFFE officers.
“But, certainly it’d be nice if they were closer,” Downey added.
Courage called police substations a substantial budget item, adding the city would spend the coming months evaluating the necessity of one north of 1604.
“If the data determines a need for the substation, I will do all I can to get it built,” he added.