Texas business owners fear online police reports alone won’t solve burglaries

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An official with Hi-Tech Automotive on South Congress, established in 1987, says a man broke in over the weekend while the store was closed.

“The alarm went off, it was really loud,” said Mona, the manager who came after receiving an alert.

Man seen on surveillance video entering Hi-Tech Automotive at South Congress

She said the man pictured on the right stole tools worth $10,000 to $20,000, as well as the keys to around $300,000 worth of cars.

“It’s really scary. It’s not about Austin. Austin is a great place and it wasn’t like this before,” she said.

Mona said that once she discovered the keys were stolen, she used other vehicles to block the cars the keys belonged to in the lot. She said she had reviewed the surveillance footage, and while she was at the store she saw the man walk by.

The Austin Police Department said it received the report online and officers are investigating.

Something similar happened at the Borderless European Market in North Austin.

Co-owner Tatiana Bogdanovych said the store was hit twice over the weekend.

“The front door is kicked in, it’s an even bigger mess,” she said.

She told KXAN that someone also robbed the market in February, which police confirmed.

Bogdanovych and Mona say they’re concerned that reporting to iReportAustin.com won’t do enough to catch or deter criminals.

“I wish we could do something to help catch these people, but no one came to collect the fingerprints or the items we need to check for fingerprints,” Bogdanovych said. “And we’re not police.”

Police say reporting property crimes like these online allows officers to respond more quickly to higher-priority calls like assaults and other violent incidents.

Surveillance images of grocery stores in the European market without borders
Surveillance images of grocery stores in the European market without borders

In October, APD asked the public to start calling 311 or using iReportAustin.com for non-violent crimes that were no longer ongoing. This change occurred in response to a combination of higher call volumes and lower staffing levels.

According to the ODA Emergency Communications Department, there is currently no backlog for online reports, but as of Monday afternoon there were 58 reports in the queue as it was a Monday . The department also says it currently has 1,287,311 calls in the callback queue. This translates to a four to five day waiting period for a callback.

At Hi-Tech Automotive, Mona spent the afternoon with tape and a laminated photo of her surveillance footage, sticking up posters around the South Congress. She says she wants to do more than just report the crime online. The company is also offering a $1,000 reward to anyone with information leading to an arrest.

“It’s important that we work to keep people like this out of our community,” she said.

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