26 West, The Castilian have highest crime rates in West Campus

Julia Brouillette

Though the neighborhoods surrounding the UT campus are statistically safer than other areas of the city, certain private apartment complexes are more dangerous than others. In the last seven years, residents of five apartment complexes in West Campus reported a combined total of 1,114 crimes, ranging from vehicle burglaries and assault to alcohol-related offenses, according to “krimelabb,” a police report aggregation site that draws data from the Austin Police Department.

In the West Campus neighborhood, which stretches from Guadalupe to Lamar Street and from 38th Street to MLK, the 26 West apartment complex had the highest crime rate, with a total of 346 crimes reported over the course of the last seven years. The Castilian student housing complex on Guadalupe, had the second-highest crime rate in the area. Both properties have been owned by American Campus Communities since 2012.

Gina Cowart, vice president of investor relations and corporate marketing for American Campus Communities, said the company has taken major steps to improve the safety of the properties since taking ownership.

“We’ve got a very active management program at the community, so I don’t believe that crime has really been an issue for us since we’ve owned 26 West,” Cowart said. “We work with the local community to make sure everybody is aware of their surroundings, we send out safety notices and we communicate a lot about resident safety.”

Mollie Mallin, Castillian resident and undeclared sophomore, said her main security concerns are the building’s stairwells and surroundings.

“Sometimes, I worry there’s not a lot of security,” Mallin said. “People sometimes hang out in the stairways, and that’s kind of worrisome, and the homeless people are always right there. But, overall, I feel pretty safe.”

Development company Greystar manages The Villas on Guadalupe and Rio West Apartments, which had the third- and fifth-highest crime rates, respectively. Campus Living Villages’ Dobie Center, also located on Guadalupe, had the fourth-highest crime rate. Campus Living Villages and Dobie managers could not be reached for comment.

Psychology sophomore Ashley Kuvet, a Dobie resident, said she thinks the high-rise building makes her feel safer.

“I think that since it’s a high-rise, it’s harder for people to break in from the ground, but I’ve never had to think about it,” Kuvet said. “The only time I’ve felt a little scared was going up the stairs at night, but I feel better knowing the security guards make you show your ID after 11.”

Austin resident Jack Darby, who runs the “krimelabb” website, tracks all police reports made in the city. Darby said although crimes occur in West Campus on a regular basis, the neighborhood is still safer than other areas in Austin.

Police have been more visible in the West Campus area in the last few weeks, as the Austin Police Department has investigated reports of an assault and a possible kidnapping, which occurred within a few blocks of each other on Feb. 3 and Feb. 4.