Texas Police Give Safety Advice After Criminal Gangs Rise In Retail

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – Recent videos of brazen break-ins across the country show thieves breaking into retail stores and flying off with thousands of dollars in merchandise within minutes.

Designer clothes, laundry detergents, razors and branded handbags were among the top items stolen by organized retail gangs in 2020. The National Retail Federation created the list after a survey of 61 companies across the country targeted by organized retail criminals.

The 2020 NRF survey also found that many companies believe a heightened sense of law enforcement is needed.

“We can’t be everywhere at once,” said Sgt. Joshua Griggers with the Austin Police Department Flight Unit.

During his 13 years with APD, “we have had organized theft networks here in the past. We’ve had it this year as well, but not on the scale of 30-40 cars driving around and robbing some of these places, ”Griggers said.

With Austin’s recent spike in homicides and aggravated thefts, Griggers said it was important for law enforcement, businesses and customers to prepare for a possible increase in retail organized crime with the following advice.

“For businesses, if you don’t have surveillance video, consider getting it. Make sure the video retention is long enough that if something goes wrong we have plenty of time to get that video before it drops off the server.

“To any employees or customers inside, I would say this is a good witness. What I mean by that is not to put yourself in danger. Don’t confront these people if they have guns or threats that they have guns. If you can, make a video discreetly. Get a good, detailed description of the suspect’s vehicle or anything that seems out of the norm.

Griggers also pointed out that witnesses were calling 911 and not 311 for an ongoing burglary.

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