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Woman calls for larger police presence at Zilker after thousands stolen in car burglary

The Chief's Monthly Report shows burglary of vehicles has gone up 25% in this area compared to 2021.

AUSTIN, Texas — Crime against property in Austin is down 4% compared to this time last year, but the area near Zilker Park is seeing an increase, according to the Austin Police Chief's Monthly Report

Stephanie Ontiveros said a visit to her son's wedding venue went wrong on Saturday.

"It was like a punch in the gut," said Ontiveros.

Ontiveros said she parked right in front of Zilker Lodge at Zilker Park to check out the venue. She said that within 30 minutes of the visit, her two friends received a text about fraud charges. 

"I ran out to my car to get my phone to see if I had gotten a fraud charge," said Ontiveros.

She said she quickly realized her phone and their purses were gone.

"My cellphone, prescription glasses, my credit card, my wallet, my ID, all of my credit cards," said Ontiveros.

Ontiveros said thieves got $15,000 worth of money and possessions after swiping away on gift cards at a nearby Walmart.

Her two friends lost a lot as well. Ontiveros said this all happened in broad daylight. Surveillance video shows a white car stall next to her vehicle and then drive off, despite a worker in the area. 

She said the video timestamp shows she was inside for less than 15 minutes when the thieves swooped by. 

"They were staking out the place," said Ontiveros. 

Ontiveros said she saw the vehicle sitting there facing the wrong direction when she parked her car.

According to the monthly chief's report, burglary of vehicles has gone up 25% in this area compared to last year, and 8% citywide. 

"This was the first that she had heard that happened here, but she said Zilker is hit hard all the time," said Ontiveros.

"I just think we need a police presence down here," said Ontiveros. "I mean, it's a known activity."

In 2020, APD dismantled its park patrol unit after budget cuts and paused cadet recruitment during a discrimination investigation. Recruitment restarted and the budget was replenished in 2021.

Ontiveros said now she is just trying to look on the bright side.

"I am getting my ID back, so I don't have to wait five months for a driver's license," said Ontiveros. 

She wants her story to serve as a reminder to lock your doors and be vigilant. 

She filed a police report, but APD told KVUE there won't be any updates until the detective on the case returns sometime next week.

KVUE on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Daranesha Herron on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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