AUSTIN - Police are concerned about a trend they are seeing in Austin's Entertainment District: criminals targeting people walking by themselves.
Police said many of the victims are walking to and from their cars and not paying attention.
"We see both male and females walking by themselves in high crime areas, they're looking down on their phones because they're texting, their heads aren't on a swivel, they're not situationally aware of what's going on around them - if people are following them," said Austin police Senior Patrol Officer, Pedro Loureiro.
During the day, police are dealing with more property crimes, like car burglaries. But at night, police said there are more violent crimes against people walking alone, like robberies and assaults.
"This is not the town it was 20 years ago," said Fred Burton.
Burton is a security and terrorism expert with Stratfor, a global intelligence firm. He said people know it's not safe to walk or run by themselves but they do it anyway.
"In many ways, it's a psychological aspect. When I was running this morning, I pass women jogging in the dark with their ear buds in," said Burton.
This, despite dozens of unsolved sexual assaults and attempted sexual assaults in Austin since late 2015. Many of the victims were female joggers attacked in broad daylight.
"I think there is a desire at times to think you are always going to be safe. But every victim I have ever talked to - that have lived through whether it be a terroristic attack or an act of violence - have always told me in retrospect that something didn't look right," said Burton.
Burton and police warned that people need to take responsibility for their own safety.
Don't walk by yourself. Vary your exercise times and routes. Burton said we know in our gut when something is wrong and it's time to listen to our instincts.
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