Transient man wanted in string of South Austin burglaries

Gary Whiteis
Gary Whiteis

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Far too many Austin residents know that feeling in their gut when they come home to find someone broke in to their house.

On Jan. 17, KXAN reported on Southwest Austin residents who worried their neighborhood had turned into a hotbed for crime.

Police now say there have been even more burglaries in that area than first believed and they are working to track down a possible suspect.

GOING IN-DEPTH // Austin Burglaries

Many people have misconceptions about burglaries. They don’t always happen at night.

  • In this rash of break-ins, more than half happened between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • The rest occurred between 6 p.m. and midnight.
  • Besides locking your door, police say the best thing you can do is install a deadbolt lock with screws longer than 1 inch.

Gary Whiteis, 60, has a long criminal history, and a warrant is now out for his arrest. Austin police think he broke into dozens of homes in the area.

“We are serious about catching this guy,” said Det. Jared Manning. “We believe he is responsible for 6 (break-ins), possibly linked as a suspect in 20, at least.”

Since December, there have been 19 home burglaries in the 78749 zip code. In the most recent burglary Wednesday night, someone stole a lawnmower out of a garage.

Police say Whiteis is a transient who may be using the woods and greenbelts in the area as cover. Authorities used police dogs and helicopters to help in the search, but neighbors were also doing their part.

Kim Goyette lives in the Beckett Meadows neighborhood and started an email chain between her neighbors.

“Just having everyone in cooperation with each other hopefully we can catch whoever is responsible,” she said.

APD is urging Southwest Austin residents to make sure their home is locked and keep a watchful eye.

“He walks with a limp, it’s a noticeable limp, and lot of the times he is on bicycle,” Manning said.

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