AUSTIN (KXAN) — Surveillance video from Royal Blue Grocery on Third Street in downtown Austin shows an alleged thief shoving a store employee Saturday.
“I was just really scared,” said Shyla Guthrie, the worker who was attacked.
She said the same man had stolen from the store earlier in the day, and she called police when he came back and loitered outside. When he came back into the store, she told him to leave and said he tried to walk out with a handful of T-shirts.
“Wanted to recover those things because they’re pricey,” she said. “I’m honestly just so sick of constant theft.”
When she did so, she said the man put his hands on her and ultimately threw her to the ground.
“I’ve had things that have been close to this, but nothing where I’ve gotten physically grabbed,” Guthrie said. A clip of the surveillance video is below.
Not the only employee safety issue
Craig Staley, the owner of the local grocery chain, said this incident — and others like it — stem from thefts or attempted thefts. He said issues with people getting violent with employees are on the rise.
Last year, KXAN showed surveillance video of someone punching an employee in the face at the chain’s Congress Avenue location. Staley said the employee involved quit after that.
“He was a great employee, he had been with us a number of years,” Staley said at the time.
Staley told KXAN Monday three of his employees have been assaulted in a similar way since the end of March.
“It’s my job to keep them safe, and I can’t do it right now,” he said.
Guthrie said police showed up after she called to report the assault. The Austin Police Department said officers responded at 8:04 p.m. Staley said they have filed a police report. APD told KXAN it couldn’t provide more information “to protect the integrity of the investigation.”
“You used to be able to walk around the corner and see a police officer, that’s just not the case anymore,” said Staley, addressing APD’s staffing shortage.
In March, the Texas Department of Public Safety deployed troopers in Austin to assist APD. In May, DPS temporarily halted the partnership. Staley said he has asked city leaders to consider deploying additional troopers to downtown specifically if the partnership resumes.
APD told KXAN Tuesday it doesn’t have information available at this time about its collaboration with other agencies or the area where they may assist.
“APD officers patrol Austin areas proactively to deter crime and provide a safe environment for the community we serve and protect based on our available resources,” it added in response to KXAN’s question about its capacity to patrol downtown to prevent theft.
The department has told KXAN in the past it advises against engaging with suspects for safety reasons.