The Austin Police Department has enlisted the help of the UT Police Department to stop a string of West Campus burglaries hoping to gain crime tips from students who read Campus Watch announcements.
APD spokesman Anthony Hipolito said there were 10 burglaries of West Campus residences from February 26 to April 16.
He said the stolen items were mostly expensive electronics, including flat-screen televisions, laptops and iPads. Hipolito said five out of the 10 burglaries involved unlocked doors or windows, and in many of the cases, the victims were intoxicated when the burglaries happened. APD and UTPD officials said they have not identified a specific suspect, but have reason to believe those involved in the crimes may be neighbors or acquaintances of the victims.
“In one instance the door of a resident’s home was kicked in, but she did not hear it or wake up,” Hipolito said. “It is not possible at this point to determine whether or not these crimes were committed by a single person. It is very likely that the suspect is a neighbor or a friend of the people who were robbed.”
Officer Darrell Halstead, UTPD crime prevention specialist, said UTPD has worked with APD in the past to locate suspects in criminal investigations. He said students who subscribe to the Campus Watch have a history of reporting suspicious behavior and helping the Austin police catch criminals.
Although Halstead urged students with any information to contact UTPD, both Halstead and UTPD Chief Robert Dahlstrom said they were not aware of any tips that had been reported.
2011 UT alumnus Trevor Nichols said he lives on 21st and Rio Grande streets, a few blocks from several of the burglary locations, but he had not heard of the string of incidences.
“You expect there to be a few incidences just because West Campus is such a large area, but I am surprised to hear that there were so many.” Nichols said.
He said he does not think it is uncommon for residents throwing a party to forget to lock their doors after everyone leaves.
“After your guests are gone, you usually just end up crashing on the couch and watching TV,” Nichols said. “I think that can be hugely dangerous, because everyone who has been in the neighborhood recently knows that you just had a party and your doors are probably still unlocked.”
Nichols said he is very careful to keep the door to his apartment locked, but he knows that his roommates and others in his neighborhood are not as cautious.
Printed on Friday, April 27, 2012 as: West Campus thieves target expensive electronics