West Campus burglaries increase during 2018 fall semester

Megan Menchaca

There have been 22 more burglaries in the West Campus area during this fall semester compared to last fall, according to the Austin Police Department crime viewer.

There have been 69 burglaries in the West Campus area this year since Aug. 29 — including 47 vehicle burglaries, 15 residence burglaries and seven nonresidence burglaries. During the same time period last year, there were 47 burglaries, including 25 vehicle burglaries, 15 residence burglaries and seven nonresidence burglaries.

APD Sgt. Jim Kettleman, supervisor of the APD residential burglary unit, said most burglars are gaining entry to a car or house through unlocked doors or windows.

“There is a higher percentage of (burglaries) occurring down in the West Campus area because the people there are more likely to have a door left unlocked,” Kettleman said. “There isn’t as much diligence among students to make sure the doors are locked when everybody’s going to bed at night.”

Kettleman said APD suggests keeping doors and windows locked and closing all garage doors to prevent home and car burglaries.

“If your door is unlocked they can simply open the door, walk in, pick up a few things and then simply walk right back out,” Kettleman said. “If they have to knock your front door down, you’re going to hear them … and you’re going to realize that you’ve been victimized.”

While the UT Police Department does not usually investigate crimes off campus, Chief David Carter said UTPD has representatives for different districts around campus who can provide advice and support if a student is a victim of a burglary.

“We may not be the ones that investigate the crime, but we can certainly help students and work with them to connect to APD or exchange information or assist in whatever way we can,” Carter said.

Kettleman said it is important to report all burglaries, even if the possibility of getting the items back is unlikely because the police will not increase patrols if they don’t receive more reports.

“If the department’s going to use data to drive our response, we need good data,” Kettleman said. “It helps us to get actual report about crimes in the area.”

Joell Sullivan-McNew, vice president of parent safety group SafeHorns, said she is concerned about the increased reports and hopes UTPD and APD will increase communication with students about burglaries.

“Even if students sometimes leave their doors unlocked, the fact that people are coming in … and taking stuff from their apartments is absolutely horrifying,” Sullivan-McNew said. 

Government sophomore Katherine Spicer, who lives in West Campus, said she has heard of people being scared after burglaries in the area and now takes extra measures to prevent burglaries of her apartment or car.

“I feel like West Campus seems to be a popular target for burglaries, so I’m always super cautious,” Spicer said. “I always make sure to lock my car and house at all times and make sure my roommates do the same.”