Series of smash-and-grabs caught on tape in South Austin


by KRIS BETTS / KVUE News and photojournalist MATT OLSEN

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Posted on January 9, 2014 at 11:12 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 9 at 11:21 PM

AUSTIN -- A group of burglars was caught on tape during a series of smash and grabs at three South Austin businesses.

Now, the owners are hoping someone will recognize the men caught on tape or their getaway car after the break-ins early Thursday morning.

"They had our cash drawer in hand, as well as a couple of electronic items, and were out of here, really, quicker than one might expect anyone to catch them,” said Brandon Bielstein.

Bielstein owns “That Computer Store” off Slaughter Lane and Manchaca Road. His surveillance video shows one man looking in the windows of his store, then hiding off to the side while another man walks up and uses his foot to break the glass door.

The two men are in and out in less than 30 seconds. They stole several hundred dollars in cash and several boxes of speakers.

Bielstein’s surveillance camera also caught the men getting into a white van driven by a third person.

Down the block from “That Computer Store” is “Capitol City Barber Shop.” The same men broke the glass door here with a large chunk of stone, then stole barber equipment, a laptop and cash.

Next door to the barber shop is “Tony’s Pizza.” Owner Zasha Riddell found a chunk of stone that one of the men used to break his glass and caught the whole thing, including one of the men’s faces, on his surveillance camera.

"I don't even think he saw the cameras or anything. He wasn't really trying to hide or be sneaky. It was just a smash and grab-type thing,” said Riddell.

This is the second series of smash and grabs in Austin within the past 30 days.

In mid-December, several stores in East Austin and at least one store along South Congress were burglarized.

Surveillance footage from a vintage clothing store on South Congress shows a man throwing a rock through the glass door, running in, grabbing what he can and then running out.

Police did not say whether all of these crimes are connected, but these small business owners hope someone will recognize the men in the video.

In the meantime, they say they'll keep looking out for each other.

“We're just local business owners trying to treat the community right, and we're hoping, in this case, that some of them will step up and provide us some information,” said Bielstein.

Anyone with information about the burglaries or the suspects is asked to call Austin police.