Austin, University police warn students after increase in West Campus burglaries

Natalie Sullivan

After the Austin Police Department noted an increase in residential burglaries, auto burglaries and auto thefts in West Campus, UTPD and APD are urging students to take precautions to secure their cars and residences.

According to a Campus Watch report, APD reported a total of 18 auto burglaries, 29 residential burglaries and seven auto thefts in the West Campus area last month. 

According to a statement by APD, most of the auto burglaries happened on Sundays or Mondays between midnight and 7 a.m., in the area between Lamar Boulevard and Guadalupe Street and between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and 31st Street. Most of the residential burglaries in West Campus happened Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. In both types of burglaries, nearly all of the entries were through unlocked doors.

Of the seven cars that were stolen, most were BMWs and other higher-end cars, according to the statement. In two cases, the keys were left in the car, whereas, in three other cases, the keys were stolen from the victims' homes.

UTPD Sgt. Layne Brewster said that, while West Campus typically falls under APD's jurisdiction, UTPD still urges students to take precautions to protect their homes and vehicles from burglaries and thefts.

"We want to remind students to always lock doors and windows to their automobiles and homes, even when they're inside," Brewster said. "Most thefts or burglaries occur because people just don't lock their doors."

Brewster also said students should keep bikes inside or locked up in garages, and they should remove anything valuable from cars.

"Even charge cords for cellphones or iPods — don't leave them in plain sight," Brewster said. "[Thieves] are kind of going shopping, just looking for what they can see and what's easy to take."

Brewster said UTPD's bike unit will also patrol the West Campus area to increase police presence and try to decrease crime.

Veneza Bremner, APD senior police officer, said officers will conduct special initiatives in the area to prevent crime and remind residents to protect their vehicles and homes by taking precautions that will make them less of a target. Tips include parking in well-lit areas, locking cars or residences and hiding valuables.