Restaurant owner loses thousands to thief, as some crimes are up in West Campus


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Earlier this week, Lisa Hilo got the news no restaurant owner wants to hear.

A thief hopped the back patio fence of The Pizza Press, broke inside, and took off with thousands of dollars.

“This is definitely someone who’d probably been staking us out,” Hilo said.

Surveillance video shows multiple angles of the masked thief inside the restaurant. He dislodges the cash register from the front counter — only taking a break to steal the company safe.

“It’s detrimental,” said Hilo. “We don’t have the sales we had just a few months ago, so a loss like this is really hard.”

According to Austin Police Department maps, several crimes in West Campus have increased this year. In order to consider the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on crime, we compared this year and last year’s numbers beginning April 1.

April 1, 2020 – August 7, 2020

  • Theft: 290
  • Auto Theft: 92
  • Burglary: 38
  • Aggravated Assault: 16
  • Robbery: 5

April 1, 2019 – August 7, 2019

  • Theft: 269
  • Auto Theft: 37
  • Burglary: 35
  • Aggravated Assault: 9
  • Robbery: 4

Hilo herself says thieves have recently stolen from the register or tip jar.

“People are desperate, and people think that potentially they can get away with things they couldn’t have before,” said Hilo.

Back in February, we told you the University of Texas planned to spend $8 million on safety improvements for West Campus. That included 11 new UT police officers, cameras, vehicles and other equipment.

We reached out to campus police to ask whether they’re getting a good return on the investment. Late Friday evening, a University spokesperson referred us to the Austin Police Department.

We’ll provide updates on this story when we hear back from APD.

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