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CrimeWatch: Central Bureau Keeping Busy


Most of Austin's violent crimes happen in the Central Bureau. Austin Police say 51 percent of them happen in this large chunk of the city that starts around the Wells Branch area up north and goes south to the Colorado River. From Mopac west all the way east to Decker Lane. It's also an area of the city that has recently seen a spike in robberies. Crimewatch goes out with Austin Police to see what they are doing about it.

Corporal Jeff Koble doesn't like going code three, or lights and sirens, during the day. He says it's dangerous because drivers can't see the patrol lights very well. But it's necessary when responding to hot shot calls. It didn't take long in our ride along to respond to a hot shot call. A man just held up the Wells Fargo Bank in North Austin in the 11,000 block of I-35. When we arrive, there are already dozens of patrol cars setting up a perimeter near the bank because the robber is on foot.

Cpl Jeff Koble.

"So we can see anybody trying to get out of this area. Try to get him stuck here."

"He could be anywhere. Lots of body shops, construction sites, manufacturing stuff."

"There are more and more places to hide."

Minutes later, officers catch a man fitting the robber's description. He's placed in handcuffs while paramedics are called to treat him. He's bleeding from his leg. Pain is written all over the man's face as he's taken away on a stretcher. When Corporal Koble isn't responding to calls like this one, he's working directive patrol or saturating a problem area with officers.

"Hey that's a problem whether its these robberies or its burglaries of cars or homes to say, try to patrol here as often as you can when you've got the time."

Commander Patrick Ockletree is in charge of the Central Bureau.

"The sheer presence of those officers, that in itself will deter a lot of crime."

Koble shows us a hot spot for burglaries, apartment complexes with big parking lots. The easy access in and out makes it a favorite for criminals. Burglaries often happen during the day when residents are at work. Robberies are also a problem around the Northgate area. Police say they've recently increased from August to September. Police say criminals target ice cream vendors and immigrants.

Corporal Koble.

"They're beaten up."

"Usually it's physical violence, it's multiple suspects with one victim."

"Most of the victims are walking alone, sometimes alcohol plays a role with the victims."

So patrol are focusing on cutting those down.

Commander Ockletree.

"We try to utilize our resources, our officers, put them in those areas, during those times that we see the crimes are occurring to try to see if we can see a decrease."

Other hot spot areas include, Rundberg and Lamar, Peyton Gin and Lamar, and Sam Rayburn. But overall, violent crimes in the Central Bureau are down. They went from 1216 same time in 2009 to 1135 this year. Commander Ockletree credits the reduction in violent crime numbers to special operations conducted the last several weeks. And with a new budget year starting in October, a review of crime stats and trends will determine what ops will target what hot spots next. Property crimes have also gone down in the Central Bureau. There were 10,411 in 2009 this time last year. This year, that number went down to 9700.

Follow Jenni on Twitter@jennileefox7.

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