How do theft levels vary at popular Austin parks?


AUSTIN (KXAN) — In the past two years, reported thefts at Mount Bonnell have quadrupled, with 228 documented thefts at the park thus far in 2021 compared to a total of 54 thefts reported in all of 2019.

This stands in contrast to other popular parks and trails within Austin, with Austin Police Department data noting substantial decreases in reported crimes at Zilker Park over the past five years.

There are more than 16,000 acres of parkland within the city of Austin, including over 250 parks, 15 preserves, 40 greenbelts, 47 pools and more than 74 miles of trail, per APD.

A spokesperson for APD confirmed the department no longer has a designated parks unit. According to an archived APD park patrol unit webpage, the former park unit included one lieutenant and 10 patrol officers within each shift.

KXAN also asked about specific patrol measures and security provisions in place at high interest parks. We will update this story as soon as a response has been received.

Council Member Alison Alter — whose District 10 jurisdiction includes both Mount Bonnell and Bull Creek District Park — said in a statement to KXAN last week that security measures at the park are a high priority within her office.

“Mount Bonnell is a beloved natural jewel that attracts visitors from far and wide, and we must make it safer. I am deeply concerned about the increasing number of vehicle burglaries in the area, and my office is in continuous communication with APD about these crimes,” she said in a statement. “We have worked with APD District Representatives to increase APD and park ranger presence around Mount Bonnell, and we are hoping to install HALO surveillance cameras to help catch the people responsible for this string of vandalism and thefts.”

Regarding the potential installation of HALO surveillance cameras, a spokesperson for Alter said conversations with APD are ongoing and no specific details on confirmed installations or timelines are available at this time.

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