AUSTIN, Texas — After multiple thefts and burglaries, a North Austin business owner learned how severe the police staffing shortage is and how vital community support is during this time.
"My parents started it and now I have it and now I have my two daughters doing it," said Kirk Andrews.
Andrews doesn't play around with the legacy of Petticoat Fair Lingerie, and over the last three months, some ugliness has tried to invade its beauty.
"I had a guy come in the back door, grab a rack of clothing and jump in a get-away car," said Andrews.
That happened twice, so Andrews installed cameras, which came in handy sooner than he thought.
"I saw him walking around and started watching him," said Andrews.
It was all caught on camera. Andrews said 911 directed him to call 311.
"I had no idea how this system worked, that 311 takes information," said Andrews. "It's not a police report, and they pass it on for a callback, so you can actually give a police report."
Andrew said it took APD almost two weeks to call him back to file a report.
"He basically said shoplifting; we don't have the manpower to track him down," explained Andrews.
A few days after filing the report, thieves struck again, but it was more costly this time.
On Saturday morning, surveillance video shows a white car driving up, someone shooting out the window and grabbing clothes before driving off. It happened around 6 a.m. when no one was at the store.
Andrews called APD around 9 a.m., once he saw what had happened.
"They got back on the phone with me and said that nobody would be coming out and said it was due to COVID restrictions, which didn't make any sense to me," said Andrews.
Andrews said 911 directed him to call 311, and to his surprise, he said they told him to put on some gloves and search for bullet casings and other evidence for police.
"That to me is extremely frustrating," said Andrews.
After posting about the burglary on social media, the community that has supported his business for decades stepped in and helped identify the suspect in the video.
"That's the frustrating part of it and the fact that through social media, I had identified who the guy was prior to getting a callback from the police department," said Andrews.
APD confirmed they are investigating that suspect. Andrews blames staffing shortages and not individual officers.
"Everybody I've talked to and the department has been helpful," said Andrews.
In the meantime, Andrews is getting his window fixed and installing more security.
On Oct. 1, Austin police stopped sending sworn officers to certain calls if there's no immediate danger to anyone involved or if a suspect isn't on the scene. They said that's helped free up uniformed officers for more serious calls and emergencies.
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