AUSTIN, Texas - Austin police said there has been an increase in robberies this year, however, they haven't been able to pinpoint the reasoning for that increase. "I’m really scared to work sometimes," said a North Austin convenience store manager who asked to remain anonymous for his own safety.
"I’ve been robbed myself two times at gunpoint," he added.
His store was hit for the second time August 30.
It was one of ten robberies reported in Austin that weekend at convenience stores, restaurants, a home improvement store, and outside an office building.
The Austin police robbery unit said it's common to see serial robbers until they're caught. "The APD robbery unit has advised that we are seeing an increase in reported robberies this year. In comparison to last year, we are seeing an uptick of around 7-9 percent," said senior police officer Bino Cadenas with Austin Police Department.
Austin Crime Reports show there have been about 70 more robberies reported in 2020 than there were by this time in 2019.
Police said there are several things people can do to make themselves less of a target for criminals, paying attention to surroundings, and walking in groups in well-lit areas are some of their suggestions.
The victim we spoke to said he believes crimes like robbery and theft have more than doubled at and around his store. "I’ve been here too long here and I’ve never seen crime like right now going on," said the store manager.
He said it's fairly common for people to take items without paying, even while knowingly being recorded. "We tell them we’re going to call the cops and they say, 'We don’t care. Call right now. We'll stay here.' They stay here 2-3 minutes, maybe five minutes, they know the police is not going to come," the man explained.
He said in his experience it takes police too long to respond.
He has recently requested more patrols and is hopeful additional lights will be installed in the area as a deterrent. However, now he fears cuts to the police budget may lead to even longer response times. "They need more police in Austin, really, really, more police in Austin. I’ve never seen Austin like this before," said the manager.
Even with shortened hours and security systems in place, he's not sure it's worth the risk anymore. "I don’t want only business, I want my life too," he said.