SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — People in a San Marcos neighborhood said they are worried about more crime in the area.

On Thursday, they will have a chance to speak directly with the San Marcos Police Department about it at a public safety meeting.

‘It’s unsafe’

One of those people concerned is George Garcia. He said at night, most of his street in the Blanco Gardens area of San Marcos is pitch black.

“The only light that’s working is the light that’s about five houses down,” Garcia said. “It’s pretty dark. We usually use flashlights to come out here to go into our car or take out the trash cans the night before.”

Garcia believed the lack of light contributed to more crime.

“The crime has been very high,” he said. “Breaking into cars, going into backyards, taking bikes, especially bikes, lawn mowers.”

He said it makes it dangerous for himself and others who leave for work before the sun comes up.

“There are residents here that work for the school district that are bus drivers and they got to get up at four or five in the morning too as well,” Garcia said. “It’s unsafe.”

Public safety meeting

Thursday evening, Garcia and others will speak directly to SMPD about those issues during a public safety meeting.

The department told KXAN at a prior meeting, SMPD heard about a variety of issues. One of them was about the number of shots fired calls neighbors reported.

SMPD said it will discuss those concerns and share updates on specific initiatives for the area.

Garcia said he’ll be there front and center hoping for a resolution.

“The first question I’m going to ask at the meeting tonight is about the lighting and then about the crime,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll get some good, good news today.”

Patrol officer staffing

Garcia said he and others would like to see more officers patrolling the area. SMPD told KXAN its working on staffing.

The department said the patrol division has 12 vacancies, but that several officers are currently in training.

They hoped to fill those positions in mid to late January.

Crime data for Blanco Gardens

According to a SMPD report sent to KXAN, overall 2023 saw a 23% decrease in calls for service from the Blanco Gardens area from January to September.

Blanco Gardens Crime Data
According to SMPD, calls for service in Blanco Gardens was down from January to September of 2023. (Photo: SMPD)

“It should be noted that 2022 saw a substantial spike in calls, which may explain some of the drastic dip in call volume in 2023 as call volume reverted to ‘normal’ for the area,” the report read.

Still, SMPD’s report said person crimes in 2023 are above normal for the area.

“A subset of Person crimes are violent crimes (agg assault, murder, sex offenses, robbery). Violent offenses committed in 2023 are meeting the highest threshold of what is normal for the area when account 5-year trends during the months of January-September,” the report said.

Shifting in call priority

While the call volume isn’t higher than normal, SMPD said the breakdown of call priority is changing in the area.

The department said this year, Blanco Gardens reported more higher priority calls.

“Specifically, in 2023, 13% of calls were given priority 1 status, while 8% were a priority 1 call in 2022 from the same months. While this is a seemingly small difference, it is out of the norm for the area,” the report read.

According to SMPD’s report, its actively investigating numerous shootings around the area.

The department also said it’s devoting technology and resources to combat violent crime and deadly conduct.