Austin police give safety advice after rise in retail crime gangs

Crime

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Recent videos of brazen burglaries across the country show thieves breaking into retail stores and taking off with thousands of dollars worth of goods within a matter of minutes.

Designer clothes, laundry detergent, razors and designer handbags were among the top items stolen by organized retail gangs in 2020. The National Retail Federation created the list after a survey of 61 businesses across the country targeted by organized retail criminals.

The NRF’s 2020 survey also found many businesses believe a heightened sense of law enforcement is needed.

“We can’t be everywhere at one time,” said Sgt. Joshua Griggers with the Austin Police Department’s Robbery Unit.

In his 13 years with APD, “we’ve had organized theft rings here in the past. We’ve had some this year as well, but not to the scale of 30 to 40 cars rolling in and burglarizing some of these places,” said Griggers.

With Austin’s recent spike in homicides and aggravated robberies, Griggers said it’s important police, businesses and customers be prepared for a possible rise in organized retail crime with the following advice.

“For the businesses out there, if you don’t have surveillance video, consider getting it. Make sure the video retention is set long enough to where if an incident occurs, we have plenty of time to get that video before it falls off the server.”

“To any employees or patrons inside, I would say be a good witness. What I mean by that is not put yourself in harm’s way. Do not confront these people if they have weapons or threats that they have weapons. If you can, take video discretely. Get a good detailed description of the suspect’s vehicle or anything that seems out of the norm.”

Griggers also stressed witnesses call 911 and not 311 for a burglary in progress.

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