Police say hotels and motels along the I-35 corridor just south of the river can be hot spots for all sorts of felonies like car burglaries and home burglaries.
All seem to have one thing in common, narcotics. In an undercover assignment, we go along with Austin Police.
Senior Patrol Officer, Zach Lahood. "We're watching the crooks and they don't know we're watching them."
That's the point of this spotter operation. Before nabbing criminals, officers from undisclosed locations "spot" suspicious activity and call them out to uniformed officers, or the take down team, to make the arrests.
Officer Lahood says, "many times we've been 4 to 5 feet away from them us and never knew we were there."
Sgt. Jamie Jobes. "If we do see someone acting suspicious, then we do try to develop a legal stop on them."
Research is done, checking criminal history, prior involvements, and outstanding warrants. What police find most of the time; the people they arrest are already wanted for felonies.
Sgt. Jobes says, "Burglaries of residence, burglaries of buildings, more serious narcotics charges."
Police say some of the hotels and motels south of the river off I-35 attract all sorts of criminal activities. This operation's goal, to cut down on property and narcotic related crimes.
Officer Lahood. "We're looking for people looking in car windows, checking door handles, moseying in the shadows, in between parked vehicles, when we watch them get out of their vehicle and walk between vehicles, that's a clue right there that that's a person of interest. We're looking for narcotics activity. We may be looking for someone running into an establishment and coming right back in 5 minutes with the car still running, or there's someone else in the car and they leave, something like that, something that looks unusual."
Some of the evidence confiscated, drugs and wads of cash. Searches inside cars also found narcotics and marijuana. Time and time again, police say they see a lot of property crimes tied to drugs. In other words, people committing crimes to feed a habit. Officers change the location of the spotter operation weekly, following the high crime areas. Catching the criminals who make residents feel unsafe.
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