With Austin having a burglary and property crime rate that is 71% above the national average, many residents are looking to learn more about property crimes and how a local attorney can help victims of burglary in Austin Texas. Here’s some information about property crimes and burglary that Austin Texas residents should find interesting.
What Are Property Crimes and What is Burglary?
Property crimes are among the most common crimes committed and generally relate to criminal offenses that involve the purposeful theft or destruction of property. The most common property crimes are trespassing, shoplifting, vandalism, arson, and burglary.
Burglary is a specific type of property crime defined by the Texas Penal Code as entering or hiding in a habitation, building, or part of a building with the intent or follow through to commit a felony, theft, or assault. While similar to theft, burglary specifically covers cases in which an individual enters a property illegally.
Burglary charges are quite severe and typically constitute a state jail felony punishable by up to two years in state jail and a maximum fine of $10,000. Forced entry into a motor vehicle is considered a Class A misdemeanor which carries up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $4,000. Burglary committed in any dwelling raises the charges to a second degree felony carrying up to twenty years in prison in addition to a maximum fine of $10,000.
Burglary in Austin Texas:
Burglary in Austin Texas has been spiraling out of control in recent years and vehicles are the largest concern, with 1,949 reports of vehicles being stolen in the first half of 2021 alone marking a 31% increase from the previous year.
While the Austin Police Department (ADP) includes a Burglary Unit specifically tasked with investigating property crimes and residential and commercial burglary in Austin Texas, many residents argue the unit is not doing enough, with the ADP citing staffing issues despite employing 14 detectives, two sergeants, and an administrative specialist and crime analyst.
With some individuals being targets of five burglaries within a year and receiving no justice due to a “lack of evidence” there are serious concerns that burglary rates will continue to increase until the Austin Burglary Unit begins competently and aggressively investigating and prosecuting these crimes. Sadly, there’s little evidence of this happening soon, as earlier this year when a neighborhood fell victim to over a dozen residents’ cars being broken into, police did not complete an investigation and failed to return a follow up call for over a week.
What Should I Do if I’ve Been Burglarized?
Unfortunately, if you find yourself a victim of burglary there’s little that you can do other than hope for a successful police investigation and collect restitution if a burglar is arrested and convicted.
While there is little one can do upon being burglarized, there are plenty of proactive steps that can be taken to prevent a burglary, with the simplest and most common ways to prevent a burglary involving:
Closing and Locking Garage Doors: The Austin Burglary Unit has long been warning about keeping garage doors shut when you leave the house or at night, as within four months in 2015 over 44 break-ins were attributed to open garage doors. In addition to closing your garage door, never leave a garage door remote in a car or area where it can be easily accessed by a burglar. Installing motion detector lights near garage doors is also beneficial as this can prevent burglars from forcing entry or walking in if you forget to close your door.
Keep Your Possessions Locked Up: With cars being commonly broken into and stolen in Austin always keep your car locked throughout the city. Consider locking bikes, lawnmowers, and other valuable property that is commonly kept outside indoors in a garage or shed. Lock your doors whenever you are leaving your house regardless of how long as the majority of residential burglaries happen on weekdays in the daylight. If you are especially concerned about being burglarized or living in an area of Austin with an especially high rate of property crime, consider investing in a hefty deadbolt lock. Deadbolt locks can be pick-resistant, which can prevent burglaries when attached to a strong door.