AUSTIN (KXAN) — A popular Austin waterhole is also becoming popular with criminals.

There have been more burglary and theft calls at Bull Creek this year than in all of 2019, 2020 or 2021, according to 311 data.

Theft is unlawfully taking someone’s property. Burglary is when someone enters a private habitation with the intention of committing a felony, theft or assault, according to Texas law.

Kristy Jenkins experienced it first hand about a month ago.

“Not 10 minutes after we parked, put some things in the trunk, my car was broken into, and my purse I had under my front seat was stolen,” she wrote to KXAN.

Her car alarm went off, but she thought maybe a child was playing near her car. Once she started getting phone alerts, she realized what was happening.

“About 20 minutes later, my phone starts dinging with all the alerts from my cards letting me know that they’ve been charged for $506 at Walmart, and they’re being blocked, at least,” she recounted.

Jenkins said it took some time to replace her ID and social security card and access her money again.

“Without money for a week. I had to have a really good friend lend me money until I could have access to it, because all of my banks were frozen,” she said. “It was pain.”

This chart from 311 shows both thefts and burglaries are up compared to the previous three years at one of Bull Creek Park's main entrances on Lakewood Drive.
This chart from 311 shows both thefts and burglaries are up compared to the previous three years at one of Bull Creek Park’s main entrances on Lakewood Drive.

According to 311 data, the Bull Creek entrances on Old Spicewood Springs Road have much fewer or no burglaries.

In 2020, the Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) installed cameras at Bull Creek after an increase in car break-ins.

However, it turns out those cameras were taken down shortly after.

“Our camera installs are typically temporary hunting/game style cameras,” wrote PARD spokesperson Kanya Lyons to KXAN. “We have learned that the quality/resolution of these cameras is low and does not allow APD [Austin Police Department] to use them in identifying people responsible for criminal acts.”

Lyons also added they’d need several cameras to have complete coverage of all of the park’s parking areas.

“Park Rangers are not law enforcement officers, and they partner with APD to support the police’s role as law enforcement,” she said. “The cameras were not deemed helpful to law enforcement and were removed shortly after install.”

Lyons said they’ve put up signs at parking lots and tried to spread the word about not leaving valuables in your car.

“The Parks and Recreation Department adds directed patrols from our Park Rangers to increase presence when there are reports of car break-ins. The parking areas between Mayfield Park to Mount Bonnell to north Bull Creek have been concerning for some time,” Lyons wrote.

When asked if they increased those patrols this year, another PARD spokesperson said they had nothing more to add and to check in with the APD about enforcement.

“Basically, I just want to see something changed around here; some cameras put up, police patrols,” Jenkins said.

A spokesperson for APD said they are looking into Jenkins’ case, but no arrests have been made, yet.

“APD continues to strategize ways to keep Bull Creek safe. We have patrol officers watching areas of high crime at Bull Creek. We have place an electronic sign to caution people who visit the park. APD has been in touch with the neighborhood association in addressing this matter. As always locking your car is the most effective way to prevent burglary. Always remember to take or hide your things.”

APD spokesperson

Austin Parks installed fake cameras at Mount Bonnell after a rash of incidents last year but told KXAN earlier this year those were taken down, because they weren’t deterring crime.