Gov. Greg Abbott directed the Texas Department of Public Safety on Thursday to ramp up patrols in West Campus in response to five robberies reported this week in the area.
Abbott said in the press release that the state will increase the amount of resources, such as the DPS patrols and troops, to end the robberies.
“The recent string of robberies in West Campus, including a violent home invasion, are unacceptable and the State of Texas will not tolerate violent crime in our communities,” Abbott said. “These extra patrols provided by DPS will help keep students safe and deter criminals from preying upon innocent people.”
APD reported four robberies connected to the same suspects on Monday and Tuesday and a fifth robbery Thursday morning with different suspect descriptions. APD said the suspects from the first round of robberies appear to be targeting women walking alone at night, according to an incident notification from the UT Police Department.
Three out of the four victims from the robberies on Monday and Tuesday are UT students, according to the UTPD incident notification. The Austin Police Department has not determined whether the fourth victim is UT affiliated and is actively working on the case, said Tara Long, an APD public information officer.
Before Abbott’s announcement, SafeHorns president Joell McNew said Abbott should increase the DPS’ presence in West Campus during a press conference discussing the recent robberies. SafeHorns is a nonprofit UT safety advocacy program.
“We are begging Gov. Abbott today to send the DPS out here because this week is too much crime,” McNew said. “We need the DPS, and based on the density of this community and the crimes that have happened this week, we need DPS out here now. This should not continue to happen.”
McNew said she wants an expansion of crime deterring technologies, such as the HALO security camera system, to be implemented in West Campus.
The HALO security camera system is a part of the UTPD’s plan to improve West Campus security in response to the rise in crime across Austin. The new improvements have been delayed due to the pandemic, UTPD Chief David Carter said.
McNew said students should never walk alone and should give up belongings freely if students are endangered. Students can call APD at 311 or Capital Area Crime Stoppers at 1-800-893-8477 if they have any information on the robberies.