This week, several armed robberies have been reported in the West Campus area. At least three of those incidents involved a student at the University of Texas, prompting UT Chief of Police David Carter to send a message to those victims.
“Know this: UTPD will support you in whatever way that we possibly can,” Carter said.
The uptick in violence this week has prompted Governor Greg Abbott to step in. Abbott has called for increased patrols by the Department of Public Safety.
“The recent string of robberies in West Campus, including a violent home invasion, are unacceptable and the State of Texas will not tolerate violent crime in our communities,” said Abbott. “These extra patrols provided by DPS will help keep students safe and deter criminals from preying upon innocent people. Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our communities, and the state will continue to provide resources to put an end to these attacks and robberies.”
Chief Carter followed up that announcement with a letter of thanks to the governor.
“Governor, I have previously expressed my concern over fewer APD officers available across the city due to the ever-growing vacancies,” Carter wrote. “We know a great many of our students live in areas outside of West Campus. We also worry about our population to our north and along Riverside where two robberies occurred this week. I encourage you to continue to monitor the situation unfolding in our city.”
One of the robberies took place early Thursday morning at an apartment complex on San Pedro. Two men reportedly broke in while tenants were sleeping, pistol-whipping one man before robbing the unit. The owner of that complex, Cater Joseph, owns multiple properties in the area.
“The increase in crime is unbelievable,” Joseph said. “West Campus and North Campus. We’ve had major robberies from San Pedro Street to 22 1/2 Street to 31st and 34th.”
Joseph is pumping a lot of money into his properties now to beef up security, including perimeter fencing and surveillance cameras, claiming he’s getting no assistance from the City of Austin, which recently slashed funding and manpower for the Austin Police Department.
“These are small properties and they don’t have huge operating budgets, and we’re having to spend inordinate amounts of those budgets for security because the city’s not doing it for us,” he said.
Police believe the same two men are likely behind these robberies. No arrests have been made.