Thefts are growing problem in Onion Creek neighborhood


by KRIS BETTS / KVUE News and photojournalist MATT OLSEN

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Posted on January 22, 2014 at 11:25 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 23 at 8:15 AM

AUSTIN -- It's been almost three months since the Halloween floods devastated the Onion Creek area of Southeast Austin, and now many residents have an extra obstacle to overcome: thieves.

Onion Creek homeowner James McDaniel said he just wants to protect what's his.

“Part of my job as a man is to protect my family and my belongings, and these dogs are my family and [these are] my belongings here," McDaniel said.

McDaniel said it's been hard since the flood thanks to thieves who have struck more than once.

“I’ve had five attempts at theft here,” said McDaniel.

Mc Daniel said a week ago, he woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of his dogs barking and saw someone standing outside in his driveway.

“I come out and I had one guy sawing on my lock on my pod. I told him he needed to get the hell out of my yard," McDaniel said.

McDaniel said so far, he's been able to protect himself.

“My trusted little pickax handle and I sent them on their merry way with a headache,” he said.

However, he said, he's worried about his neighbors and their children.

Immediately after the floods, hundreds of Austin police officers patrolled the streets in the Onion Creek area, but after a month or so they had to cut back.

Now, Austin senior police officer Stephen Woytkewicz told KVUE they are increasing their presence once again.

“Today I ran all kinds of license plates, keeping an eye on people coming in and out of the neighborhood. Twice we got flagged down today about theft or attempted burglaries,” said Woytkewicz.

Homeowners, while happy about the patrols, said they still want to see more officers after dark.

APD says they have put in an additional 150 hours of patrol time in the Onion Creek area in January alone and will continue to increase patrols as long as necessary.