Why Do Robberies Keep Climbing at University of Houston?

Categories: Crime

Photo by Sandrafdzh
Robberies at the school are inching towards 100 a year.
Ask any University of Houston student about the main campus and they'll acknowledge that they find it a little sketchy outside,especially at night. Not to do any Third Ward bashing. We know the Tre's steadily working its way to up-and-coming neighborhood status. We know you see those brand new condos springing up.

"During the day I feel fairly safe," said junior Stacy Hensley, who commutes to campus. "But there is definitely a time -- 7 p.m. -- where I no longer feel safe, and I start to hit the panic button."

This week the university's student newspaper, which often tackles the issue of crime and campus life again had a story that looked at the most recent crime stats from the University police, which are about two years old, and it looks like students who live off campus are either not locking their back doors or are being subject to a little preferential treatment by crooks.

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These Woman Just Can't Stop (Allegedly) Giving Illegal Butt Jobs

Categories: Crime

Camille Urgiles
Argiform, a soft-tissue filler material also called polyacrylamide hydrogel, isn't the classiest thing to use to stay looking young and supple, but it does appear to be the favorite product of back-alley beauty clinics.

Maria Lorena Teran and her daughter Camille Urgiles have been charged multiple times for allegedly administering this drug, court records show. The product is well known for enhancing T&A on desperate men and women. Urgiles and Teran were picked up two weeks ago by police for practicing medicine without a license and for delivering a dangerous drug in Houston.

Court records show Teran's arrests going back to 2011, for administering amoxicillin without a license.

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Authorities Say Nurse Dropped Near-Deadly Amounts of Salt in Daughter's Feeding Tube

Categories: Crime

Katie Ripstra
It took removing a pre-schooler from her mother's care for seven months for authorities to build their case against a mom they say tried to poison her little girl with salt.

Katie Alice Ripstra, 31, was charged this week by the Harris County Sheriff's Office for allegedly poisoning her 4-year-old through a feeding tube the child used. The abuse, according to court records, put the child into the intensive care unit at Texas Children's Hospital last year and caused brain damage.

According to a sheriff's office investigator, the child had been abused since 2011. An affidavit of probable cause says the child had been admitted several times to TCH with extremely high sodium levels. In August, she was admitted with a level as high as 186 milliequivalents per liter. The normal range for blood sodium levels is 135 to 145 milliequivalents per liter according to National Library of Medicine.

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Is Your Chevy on Some Drug Gang's Radar?

Categories: Crime

Guard your Chevy.
When the Houston Police Department releases its monthly list of the most stolen vehicles, the makes and models rarely change. What does move the needle a bit, however, is the total number of vehicles stolen each year. According to police, there were just over 13,500 thefts last year, a 4 percent increase in auto thefts that they attribute to more people moving into the area.

That's still a far cry from the 40,000 thefts they had one year during the 1990s, veteran Houston auto theft cop, Officer James Woods said. He told Hair Balls that the two-decade decline has been due to several factors, including better technology from auto makers, more sophisticated police work and a grant the Houston police have used to step up law enforcement on the auto theft detail (you pay for this with a $2 contribution to your vehicle insurance plan).

Houston's top ten most stolen automobiles has been pretty steady for the last decade, Woods said. At the top of the list this month are Chevy trucks.

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Sheriff to Talk About State of Public Safety

Categories: Crime

Photo From Prsahouston.org
Sheriff Garcia serving the law with a smile.
Got something to say to the Harris County Sheriff's office? Tonight's your chance at a state-of-public-safety event hosted by the agency. The public town hall meeting will feature officials and public safety leaders, led by Sheriff Adrian Garcia himself.

But seriously, if you've got concerns about law enforcement matters or want to know more about public safety issues, officials will be all ears. In a statement, the sheriff's department says it encourages everyone to come out to speak, "Area residents are encouraged to share their experiences."

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Suspect in Strip Club Murder Captured in Mexico (Update)

Categories: Crime

The suspect in the murder of a pregnant cleaning woman working inside Eclipse Gentlemen's nightclub was captured yesterday, less than two weeks after Maria Lucrecia was found dead.

Osvaldo Fernandez-Aguilar, 23, was on his way to Cuba via Cancun, according to police, when he was arrested. Mexican authorities assisted the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force and the U.S. Marshals Service to bring him in.

Police, at a press conference on Friday, said Fernandez-Aguilar confessed to the murder. He's charge with capital murder. Lucrecia was reportedly found strangled, and died from blunt force trauma.

Continue for our previous coverage of Maria Lucrecia's murder and the search for Osvaldo Fernandez-Aguilar.

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Houston Man Used Religion to Sucker Woman Into Ponzi Scheme

Categories: Crime

This is not God's work.
A Houston man was sent to federal prison recently in a devious scheme to bilk a Mississippi woman out of her divorce settlement money. Samuel Ray Palasota used the word of God to get more than a half-million dollars from the woman, making her think they were partners in a Houston real estate company.

Palasota, 53, set up a church he called The Makers Mercy Church. He ran the so-called real estate company through a branch he called The Maker's Resources, and according to online records he also operated Sammy Palasota Ministries, all had Houston mailing addresses.

Palasota connected with the woman sometime in 2008, offering her religious counseling. A year later the woman agreed to invest her money with him after receiving religious literature and a guarantee of a 40 percent return on her principal annually, according to court records.

Given Houston's real estate market four years ago, there's no wonder she bought into it. But, as court records show, Palasota didn't invest a dime of the woman's money.

Instead he spent it on himself.

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iPhone App Helps Shut Harris County Grow Operation Worth $1.4 Million

Categories: Crime

Photo Couretsy HCSD
A weed bust that came from smartphone tips.
While it sometimes feels a little gimmicky when the sheriff's office pushes their iWatch Harris County smartphone app, it may have recently helped deputies squash an indoor marijuana growing operation worth more than $1 million.

We're not sure if we're in support of all that greenery being wasted and eventually burned by authorities, what with our glaucoma and bad back and all. But, we've watched enough movies and television to know that big drug operations and big money can fairly often lead to violent crime, and who knows what potentially nefarious connections this type of operation may have had (think: drug gangs). We can only speculate.

So, maybe it's a good thing iWatch helped shut this thing down.

While the details of the case are being withheld at this time due to the ongoing investigation into the seizure of nearly 400 marijuana plants, what the Harris County Sheriff's Department is really trying to put out there is that the investigation was all due to digital tips they received on that app.

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Pregnant Murder Victim's Family Makes a Plea for Help

Categories: Crime

Maria Lucrecia's family makes a plea for help in finding her alleged killer.
The family of a murdered pregnant mom carried a huge portrait of her through the Houston Police Department earlier today. The blown-up photo, encased in a tall frame, was part of their tearful plea for help in finding the woman's alleged killer who police say is still at large.

Maria Lucrecia was killed last Saturday while she was working at her cleaning job at the Eclipse Gentleman's club on South Gessner.

Police have charged Osvaldo Fernandez-Aguilar with capital murder in the killing. Authorities say they know Fernandez-Aguilar has relatives still here in Houston and are looking for help finding him.

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HPD Shares Tale of Scams and Wal-Mart Debit Cards

Categories: Crime, Spaced City

Scammers' tools.
If you ever needed another reason to hate Wal-Mart, Alice Lee's got one for you. She was almost a victim Tuesday night of the Green Dot Moneypack scam.

But we'll get to that in a minute.

Lee was a special guest during the Houston Police Department's news conference today on scams targeting the Asian Community. Eric Mehl from the HPD's swindle unit led the discussion where he also ave some details on a tax season ruse called the "IRS Impostor Scam" that's been targeting Indian and Afghani immigrants in Houston. In that one someone of very low moral character calls the unsuspecting victim and tell them that they owe back taxes and that they can be deported for non-payment.

Then there's the "you got a warrant scam", which is where Lee comes in. While she is Chinese American, police said this scam is equal opportunity.

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