AUSTIN (KXAN) — Hotels and motels can be inviting settings for criminals. Investigators say these types of locations are often hotbeds for theft and illegal drug activity.
“Ever since COVID, hotels are not cleaning rooms every day unless you request it,” said Mike Gomez with the Texas Municipal Police Association. “So you could basically be there for 3 or four days and never be seen by anybody.”
That’s why, he says, people involved in drug crimes often end up storing drugs in hotel rooms.
It was a drug-related search warrant that drew police to the InTown Suites Extended Stay on North Lamar near Rundberg Lane on Tuesday morning.
Police say a confidential informant led the Central Texas Regional SWAT Team to the North Austin hotel, reporting “large amounts of narcotics” inside the hotel room.
Gomez says people can go in and out of hotels while remaining relatively undetected.
“You pull into a location where nobody knows you,” he said. “You’re asked very few questions at check-in, it’s basically just ‘Is this business or leisure?’ You can walk in and check-in and nobody bothers you.”
That’s one of the reasons the Waco Police Department has a voluntary partnership set up with hotels and motels in the area. It’s a three-phased approach that involves training and security inspections.
“The first phase is bringing in all the managers and the owners and giving them a five-and-a-half-hour class,” said Detective Joshua Fischer with the Waco Police Department. “It’s about safety… crime prevention through environmental design, drug recognition and active-shooter response on a civilian level.”
The Austin Police Department doesn’t have a dedicated partnership quite like Waco, but “seeks to promote partnerships and collaborations with all community members and businesses to deter crime and enhance public safety,” according to a department spokesperson.
The spokesperson also told KXAN in an email that APD uses “evidence-based practices” to monitor crime hot spots at hotels and motels. KXAN came across a drug arrest affidavit earlier this month where an officer mentions scanning license plates at a hotel because he “knew it to be a high crime area.”