AUSTIN, Texas - Two business owners in South Austin believe they were targeted by the same suspect Monday morning. The crimes happened about one hour apart and were both caught on security cameras.
It was the first day the doors at Headspace Salon and Co-op opened for business after a two-month-long shutdown, but when one of the stylists arrived to her shift Monday, she noticed there was already a problem.
“We realized that somebody had vandalized our building and shattered our front door and one of our windows,” said Laura North, owner of the salon.
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She checked the surveillance video to find out what happened. “This guy just kind of rolled up and it seems like he’s got some sort of hard object in his hand. I don’t know what exactly it is, but he reaches back and chucks it through our front door,” North said.
She did what any business owner would do in that situation, called the cops. “We reached out to APD as soon as it happened. They told us that, unfortunately, they are not dispatching officers for these types of crimes,” said North.
“And the fact that that’s not happening right now, it kind of makes you feel like you’re in it alone,” she added.
Austin police said because it was a non-emergency call and the crime was not in progress, North was told to fill out a report online. She did that through 3-1-1. Her case is one of the more than 730 non-emergency reports made between March 24th and May 18th.
Then North posted video of the crime online and learned she was not in it alone. Two miles away, the co-owner of Mr. Natural was dealing with a similar situation.
“A gentleman was scoping out the surroundings of the restaurant and found a rock, smashed it against our door, our glass door, and just ran inside and grabbed the register and whatever came with it,” said Isabel Mendoza, co-owner of Mr. Natural on South Lamar.
The suspect in her case took off on his bicycle with the cash register under his arm. Austin police sent a detective out to the restaurant because this time it was a burglary.
Now both business owners are working together trying to find the culprit and warn others.
“It was kind of back to back. Her’s was hit first at midnight, from what I saw in the video, and then ours was at 1 o’clock,” Mendoza said.
“Oh, they had the same shirt, same bag. I mean, it’s a pretty defining outfit. You can’t really miss it and it’s the same guy,” said North.
Both business owners say repairing the damages will cost them thousands of dollars.
“I don’t think that a lot of people understand the financial burden and stress that small businesses have been through these last couple months. So to walk in and see an expense like that added on top of everything else, it’s pretty disheartening,” North said.
They’re just hoping the police can find the person responsible before this happens to someone else.