167 arrested in Wells Branch crime initiative: TCSO

From thefts to fraud, just some of the concerns in a fast growing part of Travis County. Tonight, law enforcement brought people up to speed about crime in the Wells Branch area.

TRAVIS COUNTY - Tuesday evening, Travis County law enforcement held a town hall meeting with the Wells Branch neighborhood to address safety concerns, and release the stats from their crime crackdown in the area.

"So many people think that it's the police policing community - that's community policing.  Well in our opinion, it's completely the opposite.  Community policing is us and the community collaboratively working together to police our streets," explained Travis County Sheriff's Captain Craig Smith. 

The Wells Branch Initiative was a six-week, multi-agency operation focused on combating crime concerns in the area. 

In October, officials provided an update about midway through the program. 

The final statistics were 2,184 citations issued and 167 arrests for a variety of crimes - ranging from prostitution to assault to credit card skimming. 

"(On the first day of the operation) our detectives are in the bushes watching the gas pumps. And lo and behold, a guy pulls out a stack of credit cards and just starts trying to buy fuel," explained Captain Smith. 

Reports of credit card skimming, many of which occurred at local gas stations, dropped drastically following the arrest. 

Another concern for residents: mailbox theft. 

"We've been trying very very hard over the last couple of years to work with the post office to try and get the reinforced mailboxes. We've been successful in a couple of places but they are super expensive," explained Captain Smith. 

More than 100 people packed the Wells Branch MUD Community Center to meet and hear from officials with the Travis County Sheriff's Office, the Travis County Commissioners Court, and the Pflugerville Police Department. 

"When you're among the I-35 corridor there is an opportunity for crime. You can just get in, get out - and not many people would see you," said Sherrie Lindig, who served on the Wells Branch Neighborhood Association. 

She moved to the area about eight years ago and commented on the quickly-growing population. 

"We care about our neighbors and we definitely try to engage with them," said Lindig. 

Part of that engagement includes the formation of Neighborhood Watches. 

"It's a very good deterrent. We have a lot of neighbors part of the program," said Chuck Walters, the Vice President of the Wells Branch Neighborhood Association. 

"We want to help you with whatever it is we can do because we know you want us to help you as well when you need that help," added Captain Smith. 

The operation lasted from Oct. 8 through Nov. 17. 

To view the entire town hall meeting, click here

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