AUSTIN (KXAN) — The owner of a local drive-in theater business said someone, or a group of people, stole 80% of the equipment from his downtown location in the last few days. 

Josh Frank, the owner of The Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In, has operated his beloved business in Austin since 2009. Blue Starlite runs one location in the Mueller neighborhood and another one downtown. He said more than $20,000 in equipment was taken from four trailers, adding that the theft felt targeted. 

“They had to know what was there. They had to have come prepared,” Frank said. “You get very comfortable in this town. Because, you know, I have always felt safe…I just never imagined something that big happening.”

Frank said he got a text yesterday evening from his downtown operator, saying there had been a “smash and grab.” The company has had thefts in the past but never one of this magnitude, he said. 

Among the items stolen were three projectors, two large generators, laptops, DVD players and a cooler, Frank said, 

“For a small business, to put it in perspective, all that equipment took me 14 years to acquire. And it was taken in one night…It hurts so much.”

“Why come to the Blue Starlite?” Frank asked. “Why harm the small guys and girls?”

Frank said his business was doing exceptionally well during the pandemic, given that the space was outside and people could come in their vehicles. When pandemic restrictions started to ease, Frank had to get creative to ensure the company would continue to be lucrative.

“It’s been very hard; It’s been a struggle. I have had to make a lot of sacrifices,” Frank said. He added he was starting to feel optimistic and “then (the theft) happens. And so, now we’re just trying to figure out how to recover and how to come back stronger.” 

Frank filed a police report with the Austin Police Department. Officers will have access to some camera footage, so Frank is hopeful there will be video of the vehicle that stole his equipment. Unfortunately, the equipment stolen was not insured. 

Frank has put a link on his business website with ways Blue Starlite Drive-In fans can support him during this time. 

“My main concern right now is just getting back to business as usual,” he said.