South Austin neighbors seeing a wave of car break-ins

South Austin car break in suspect (KXAN Viewer Photo)
South Austin car break in suspect (KXAN Viewer Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Homeowners in a neighborhood near South Fifth Street and Barton Skyway say they need help after a wave of car break-ins.

They say the thieves are striking after midnight and they’ve had enough. Now neighbors are doing their own detective work using cameras, social media and each other to help catch those responsible.

“I came out to the truck got it on the driver side and this was not closed — it was propped open,” Trey Hebert, a neighbor said. He and his fiance have lived in their home for the last six months and say already they’ve been broken into twice.

“It happen Monday and I found out when I got in the car to go to work the next day and I saw things were not where I left them,” Hebert said.

They took some cash and some sunglasses this time, but Hebert and his fiance say it’s not the value of the items but the sense of security and privacy that’s gone.

“We want to kind of prevent any of that activity from reaching a level or someone would steal the truck or steal something else,” Christen Mason, Hebert’s fiance says. “It makes me nervous about being here by myself when Trey is not here.”

Surveillance video shows a suspect walking around trying multiple doors at a house just a few doors down. Another video shows the same suspect walking towards Hebert’s truck. In both videos, the man appears to be holding a plate of food.

“Maybe that could be a disguise, just carry around a tray of food and put things into the tray of food to kind of hide what he collects?” Mason wondered.

Other neighbors, like Taber Lee, who has lived in his home for 4 years, says the break-ins have become a norm.

“I would say probably 30 percent of the people in this neighborhood have had some sort of break-in and that’s in the last four years that I’ve been here,” Lee says. “Being a unique neighborhood and a unique setting, we all know what we signed up for.”

Lee recognizes crimes like this will happen in a growing city. “But at the same time, we’re working with the city to try to take every measure and every activity to try to take care of it,” Lee said.

He doesn’t know anyone in the neighborhood that hasn’t had a car or home break-in, but for now, they’re just hoping their video will help catch the person responsible.

“As a neighborhood we are doing everything we can, more and more people are catching these guys on camera, we’re doing what we’re told as far as reporting and we’re gonna continue to do so,” Lee says.

Police say one of the biggest problems is that people leave their car and home doors unlocked.

They say it’s critical not to leave anything valuable in your car and always call 911 if you see anything suspicious.

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