AUSTIN (KXAN) — Just a little more than a week into the Austin Police Department’s new way of having people report crimes not in progress, one business owner repeatedly hit by crime fears nothing will change in the way police respond to cases like hers.
At the start of October, APD switched to handling crimes in which there’s no immediate threat through 311 and online reports. Austinites are still advised to call 911 for immediate or ongoing threatening situations.
Amy Morales used the new system to call 311, then file an online report when she found thousands of dollars worth of materials had been stolen from her construction site on South Lamar Boulevard over the weekend. She believes the thief even used her site’s forklift to run over work her team had already finished to haul out thousands of dollars worth of rebar. For this hit alone, she estimated about a $28,000 loss in materials and labor.
Morales says this is the fifth time the site has been hit in the past couple of years.
“We’re losing money, a lot of money, every time we get hit now,” Morales told KXAN.
She says she’s reported four of the five burglaries to APD. She says an APD officer only physically came out once when she reported that a suspect brandished a gun. She doesn’t expect an officer to come to her site following this most recent burglary.
Morales says generally, within a couple of days, she’ll get a call back from APD, explaining that detectives generally ask, “‘Do you have serial numbers? Do you have what they took?’ And just basic information, ‘We’ll get back to you we find it.'”
She says after that point in the cases, she’s never had anymore traction and has never recovered any stolen items.
Morales adds that several neighboring businesses have had break-ins and thefts. KXAN confirmed with the superintendent at a construction site across the street that the apartment complex he’s building has had about a dozen breakins within the past year where people have stolen tools and materials. He says his bosses haven’t recovered any of what was stolen after reporting the burglaries to police, either.
Morales says she’d like to see more patrolling in areas like hers where there’s a trend in certain crimes.
Morales says she installed security cameras and caught a couple of past burglaries on them. She says she shared that video with police in hopes that it would help catch suspects.
“We turned it in so they could have video and footage,” Morales said. “They might have it in the database when they find it in a pawn shop or something, but they don’t follow up.”
She says she quit paying the monthly fee to record security footage because she didn’t feel it would help.
“You can only follow up so many times by the time you get frustrated, and you’re like, ‘You know what? They’re not going to do anything. Just move on.’“
Morales says now, she’s looking into better insurance that will cover the cost of materials lost.
The Texas Department of Insurance recommends that businesses add crime coverage to their policies that cover instances of robbery, burglary and theft.