Burglary Victim Told to Collect Evidence on His Own Due to Police Staffing Shortage

Staffing shortfalls are being blamed after a police department reportedly suggested to a burglary victim in Texas that he collect evidence on their own.

Over the last three months, Kirk Andrews reported multiple burglaries at the business he owns, Petticoat Fair Lingerie, in North Austin, according to a report from KVUE. Despite this ongoing issue, Andrews said he did not get much of a response from local police, due to the nature of the crime and the "manpower" that the department currently has.

"I had a guy come in the back door, grab a rack of clothing and jump in a get-away car," the shop owner told KVUE.

After the first two incidents, Andrews installed a security camera at the shop and caught the third break-in on tape.

"I saw him walking around and started watching him," Andrews said.

austin police staffing shortage
Police in North Austin, Texas, reportedly blamed staffing shortages for their inability to respond to a local business owner's burglary problem. In this photo, a police officer helps secure the area after one person was injured by a package containing an incendiary device at a nearby Goodwill store on March 20, 2018, in Austin. Scott Olson/Getty Images

With this footage in hand, Andrews reached out to the Austin Police Department again. After calling 911 initially, he was told to call 311 instead and share his information.

"I had no idea how this system worked, that 311 takes information," Andrews explained. "It's not a police report, and they pass it on for a callback, so you can actually give a police report."

"Due to the fact that the incident was no longer in progress and the suspect left the scene, the 9-1-1 operator referred the caller to 3-1-1 or iReportAustin.com to make a non-emergency report," Austin police confirmed to Newsweek in an email. "This is an open investigation for a burglary of a non-residence ... In this case, proper protocols were followed when routing to 3-1-1. APD will continue to dispatch officers to all violent crimes and crimes that are in progress."

After giving his information, Andrews did not hear back from the police for another two weeks. Once they finally got back to him, their response was not particularly helpful.

According to Andrews, the department said that the incidents boiled down to "shoplifting," and that they were too short-staffed to put any officers on the case.

A few days after the callback, Petticoat Fair was burglarized again. This time, security footage showed a white car approaching the empty store about 6 a.m. Someone exits the vehicle, shoots out the shop's windows, and makes off with some clothes.

After Andrews called the police again, he was told "that nobody would be coming out and said it was due to COVID restrictions." Andrews said that this explanation "didn't make any sense" to him.

He was told to call 311. It was during this call that he was told to get a pair of gloves and search for bullet casings or other pieces of evidence at his shop to help a potential police investigation get moving.

"That to me is extremely frustrating," Andrews said.

Andrews later posted the security footage to social media and members of the community were soon after able to identify the person. The police department told KVUE that it is currently investigating the potential suspect identified in the footage.

Newsweek reached out to Austin Police Department for comment.

As of October 1, Austin police made it a policy to not send officers to any scene where individuals are not in immediate danger or a suspect is not present. This change is meant to free up available officers for more serious calls.

"APD officers are still responding to robbery calls, which by their very nature are violent," the department told Newsweek. "Robberies are defined as an assault with a threat, whereas burglaries are defined as a theft of a building, car, home, etc."