By Moses Leos III
Two separate incidents involving vehicle burglaries, one involving truck tire thefts, have some Buda citizens on edge and the Buda Police Department trying to raise awareness.
The events have pushed Buda Police to stress vigilance as they continue to investigate the crimes.
Buda’s first rash of burglaries occurred the week of Aug. 4. According to police, as many as 12 vehicles were burglarized in the Whispering Hollow and Cullen Country neighborhoods.
The crimes occurred between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m., with the most committed in Cullen Country on Aug. 4. Kidd said none of the vehicles showed signs of forced entry.
Police have pinpointed one person who may be responsible for those crimes. On Aug. 11, Buda Police released the photo of a man who they believe committed the crimes.
Authorities captured a photo of the possible suspect, a 5-foot, 8-inch tall white male in his early teens, when he attempted to use a credit card stolen from the scene.
The photo, which was posted to the department’s Facebook page, has generated a response, according to Kidd. He said the department has the name of the individual, but continues to investigate.
Kidd said such crimes occur as criminals search for vehicles that are unlocked. He said criminals walk up and check car doors, rather than break into windows.
According to Kidd, 90 percent of the vehicle burglaries in Buda featured no forced entry. It’s a frustrating development, Kidd said, as the department attempts to bring awareness to lock doors.
“We constantly tell people to lock their doors and put valuables out of sight,” he said.
Kidd said locking doors and hiding valuables are two ways for citizens to keep from being a target. Parking in well-lit areas, or in the driveway of a home, lessens the risk of a vehicle being burglarized.
In a separate incident on Aug. 11, three trucks were found with the tires stolen and the vehicles on blocks. All four tires from each of the three trucks were removed.
Two of those tire thefts occurred in the Elm Grove neighborhood, with another in Whispering Hollow.
Kidd said similar incidents have occurred in Hays County for “some time.” The Hays County Sheriff’s Office has responded in the past to trucks with tires stolen, Kidd said. Those incidents have occurred in the Coves of Cimarron and Leisure Woods.
Kidd estimated that the tire thefts were professionally done and suspects the tire thieves could be the same group that the Sheriff’s Office has been involved with.
Buda PD is currently investigating the crimes. Kidd said the department is checking with residents who may have video camera footage of the crime for any information.
Both incidents led Buda Police to discuss vehicle safety with neighborhood leaders. Kidd said his officers met with local homeowners associations.
The department has also met with residents in Whispering Hollow to create neighborhood watch groups in the next few weeks.
Kidd said neighborhood watch groups are effective and that they are “force multipliers.”
“It keeps those informed about crimes going on around the area,” Kidd said. “For us, it’s more eyes on the street. Them being aware and communicating with neighbors and us.”
Councilwoman Angela Kennedy, who lives in Elm Grove, said the events have led to chatter on the neighborhood’s Facebook page about starting a watch group. No formal group currently exists in Elm Grove.
Discussion within the forum extended to putting up cameras and motion detecting lights in driveways. There has also been discussion on putting cameras at the entrance of the subdivision.
She said there would be “serious consideration” of neighborhood-wide safety measures at the next Elm Grove HOA meeting. Pooling resources to obtain safety measures could be a point of discussion.
“I think we can learn to be a little more aware,” Kennedy said. “I’m always wanting to learn more about how I can best protect my home.”